After a seven year hiatus, British indie-poppers The Clientele release another album, Music for the Age of Miracles. Lead singer Alasdair MacLean is back doing what he does best across this album, singing faintly about his life and his dreams, blending the lines between reality and something surreal. The band has a sound that’s almost poppier than ever across the instrumentation, but MacLean hasn’t lost the fondness he’s always had for pensive, introspective lyricism.
What appealed to most fans across The Clientele’s early 2000’s work was MacLean’s stories over simple, faint instrumentation, which gave the vibe that the group was channeling mood more so than mastery of their instrument. What has changed more than anything on Music for the Age of Miracles is how dense and layered the production is. MacLean and company are offering much more flavorful songs, providing rising and falling actions and genuine climaxes to the same brand of storytelling.
The lead single off the album, “Lunar Days,” offers up the nostalgia, the pop, and the newfound knack for musical intricacies that best demonstrate the direction The Clientele intended to head with Miracles. MacLean sings about the contrast between the triviality of his own life to the significance of those around himself. What hooks me with MacLean’s lyrics here is what he chooses not to say, singing “Down in the streets they’re falling in love,” leaving the listener left to interpret the ‘and I’m not.’
Easily the most ambitious track on Miracles is “The Museum of Fog,” a 4-minute tale that abandons all singing and structure, and MacLean tells as straightforward of a story as he knows, by essentially reading the audience a chapter of his life, leaving listeners as messy and hollow as MacLean tells us he is.
The group’s hiatus and the wisdom that MacLean has gained with the times didn’t necessarily help him figure everything out, but he’s gotten a whole lot better at describing his uncertainty.