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Merge Records release I Am Not There Anymore, The Clientele’s first new record in six years. Over The Clientele’s 32-year career, critics and fans have described their songs with words like “ethereal,” “shimmering,” “hazy,” “pretty,” and “fragile.” Their singer, guitarist, and lyricist, Alasdair MacLean, 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 your body is in.”
I Am Not There Anymore, regularly evokes what MacLean calls “the feeling of not being real.” Many of the songs were inspired by MacLean’s memories of the early summer in 1997, when his mother died, but also represent The Clientele pushing towards a new sonic frontier as a band, experimenting over the course of a three-year recording period.
Of this stretching out, MacLean says, “We’d always been interested in music other than guitar music, like for donkey’s years.” This time out, he and bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen incorporated elements of post-bop jazz, contemporary classical, and electronic music. According to MacLean, “None of those things had found their way into our sound other than in the most passing way, in the faintest imprint.”
With those elements in the foreground, I Am Not There Anymore reasserts The Clientele’s standing among the great stylists of pop music, deftly shifting from image to image, mood to mood, in a way that feels both new and classically them.