The Clientele, Music for the Age of Miracles
After a seven-year hiatus, British indie-pop band The Clientele have returned to the spotlight with their newest release, Music for the Age of Miracles. The album title itself alludes to the ethereal ambiance entwined throughout all twelve tracks, as we are pulled back into the mellow, pearly-vibed world of The Clientele. Despite the long break between this album and the last, the band continues to channel their 60s rock and folk-rock influence, calling to mind the lull and hum embraced by The Velvet Underground and the likes. Indeed, Music for the Age of Miracles, brimming with romantic overtones and distinctly poetic lines, reconfirms The Clientele’s mastery of the indie-pop genre.
When lead vocalist Alasdair MacLean chants “In a dream I followed you home” four lines into opening track “The Neighbor,” we’re instantly cast into the otherworldly haze of his encounter, a melodic arrangement of bright guitar strums interwoven with the melancholic notes of the cello. “The Neighbor” is followed by “Lyra in April,” a piano-led, one-and-a-half-minute instrumental that evokes the tender image of April rain and wet pavements during the month of spring showers. These short yet dulcet pieces are a recurring theme throughout the album, giving us a fragmentary glimpse into the soft mist and whimsical nature of MacLean’s lyrics.
A melodic shift in seasons occurs when we reach “Lyra in October,” another short instrumental, this time under a minute and filled with empty, echoed spaces between the sorrowful plucking of strings. The track transitions into the vibrant “Everyone You Meet,” which signals the album’s shift toward autumnal hues and tones — as you listen, the crispness in the air becomes almost tangible. Surely the best song on the album, “Everyone You Meet,” channels a thrilling ambience of possibility: “Everyone you meet breeds love,” Maclean sings in the chorus, stirring us to think of all the people we have met, and to look forward to all those we have yet to encounter.
Music for the Age of Miracles closes with its title track, where recurring references to “light” call forth the impressionist inspiration in the album’s cover art: a collection of faint, mellow strokes of color — an accurate characterization of the album’s sound as a whole. This final song compels us to look back on our enchanting journey through the seasons. But all too soon, the journey suddenly ends, and we find ourselves reluctantly waking up from this gentle reverie.