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The Clientele Release New Single “Claire’s Not Real”

Today, cherished London trio The Clientele releases “Claire’s Not Real,” the new single from their forthcoming album, “I Am Not There Anymore”, out July 28th on Merge. This time around, The Clientele – vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Alasdair MacLean, bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen – incorporated elements of post-bop jazz, contemporary classical and electronic music to […]

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Photo by Andy Willsher

Today, cherished London trio The Clientele releases “Claire’s Not Real,” the new single from their forthcoming album, “I Am Not There Anymore”, out July 28th on Merge.

This time around, The Clientele – vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Alasdair MacLean, bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen – incorporated elements of post-bop jazz, contemporary classical and electronic music to their work.

According to MacLean, “None of those things had been able to find their way into our sound other than in the most passing way, in the faintest imprint.” The result in songs like “Claire’s Not Real”, which shifts fluidly from a light bossa nova beat to The Clientele’s classic chamber pop. “And sometimes I’m walking home, at my door, I am not there anymore,” MacLean sings atop lush instrumentation, “I am not there anymore, do you know what I mean?”

MacLean notes that he’s not the kind of songwriter who ever sits down with a theme in mind; it’s more that “the music will bring images and then those images link of their own accord.” On “Claire’s Not Real,” MacLean evokes the all-too familiar eerie beauty of a sky lit orange by forest fires. “I was in Cercedilla in Spain in summer 2020,” he says of the track. “There was suddenly a rain of ash and an orange glow on the horizon, and I read on my phone that nearby Ávila was burning with forest fires. This moment found its way into several songs on the album.”

Over the 32-year career of the pop band The Clientele, critics and fans have often described their songs with words like “ethereal,” “shimmering,” “hazy,” “pretty” and “fragile.” MacLean, though, has his own interpretation of the effect his music creates. “It’s that feeling of not being there,” he says. “What’s really been in all the Clientele records is a sense of not actually inhabiting the moment that your body is in.”

“I Am Not There Anymore” regularly evokes what MacLean calls “the feeling of not being real.” A lot of the lyrics were inspired by MacLean’s memories of the early summer in 1997, when his mother died. Though the album functions as MacLean’s way of mourning, he notes that he’s not the kind of songwriter who ever sits down with a theme in mind. It’s more that “the music will bring images and then those images link of their own accord.” It’s a general mood he’s chasing with these loosely connected recollections. (For more of MacLean’s impressionistic words, spend some time with his book Exhaust Fumes, Magnolias & Light: Selected Lyrics 1997-2021, published by Edge of the Lane Press.)

The result is a 19-track journey that extends from light bossa nova beats to the Clientele’s classic chamber pop, with Keen’s live drums weaving around programmed drum and bass samples to create something polyrhythmic and avant-garde. Keen is also responsible for the spare and lovely instrumental interstitials that appear throughout the LP — all called “Radials,” as in “the spokes from the center of the wheel.” They “change the focus in between songs,” according to MacLean. “Without those tracks, everything might be a bit too heavy. They make you look away for a little while so you can look back again later.” There’s a similar purpose to the cover image, taken from the 1823 Kameda Bōsai painting Long Life. It’s both a beautiful piece of abstract art and a poem about, in MacLean’s words, “the distance and surprise of getting older.”

As MacLean says, “I Am Not There Anymore” is all about “the memory of childhood but at the same time the impossibility of truly remembering childhood… or even knowing who or what you are.”

PRE-ORDER “I AM NOT THERE ANYMORE” HERE

As well as US dates to follow in August, the band will also play a London in-store at Rough Trade (buy tickets) in support of the record, performing at Rough Trade East on release day, Friday, 28th July. 

Source: thoughtswordsaction.com

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