Best tunes of 2003: #19 The Clientele “Porcelain”

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London-based indie pop band The Clientele have appeared on these pages a few times already. A couple of their albums have appeared high up on the Best Albums lists for the years in which they were released (see here and here) and in their first appearance with “Rain” off their debut release in 2000, I talked a little bit about my introduction with the band. This came in 2003 with the release of their sophomore album and first proper studio album*, “The violet hour”.

I remember being in constant discussion with Jez, my friend and colleague at the time, about the bands we were discovering during our shared favourite post-work activity: trawling the Internet for new and exciting bands. I’m not sure which of us happened upon this particular album first but we were both enamoured with it right off the bat and I’m sure that our other colleagues must have tired of us raving about it. It almost became a running joke to bring them up at least once a conversation.

I’ve been following the group ever since, through the various lineup changes and hiatuses, and though each of their albums have been special, “The violet hour” is still my favourite. It is a collection of tracks that sounded like nothing else at the time and at the same time hinted at music from a bygone era. Track eight was this mellow but peppy number called “Porcelain”. It shared the feel and environment of the rest of the whole, like dewdrops glistening in the bright morning sunlight and gauzy curtains billowing in the warm summer wind. Like the echo of a half-remembered dream. MacLean whispers and croons his la-la-las and the guitars and drums and even that wicked bass line that pops its head in for munchies, they’re all sopping wet with reverb. And the words are not a narrative as much as they are an oil painting.

“Sunlight on the empty house and sunlight on the fields
The cul-de-sac, the law, the tracks, the lane
But the world is porcelain
Yes, the world is porcelain”

Incidentally, “The violet hour” is the only one of The Clientele’s albums that I still don’t have a copy of on my vinyl shelves but this is only because it hasn’t yet been reissued. I was beginning to think I’d never have a copy because I’d heard that the master recordings were lost but I am pretty sure that frontman Alasdair MacLean has since announced that they were found. So far there’s been no reissues announced but perhaps this year for it’s 20th anniversary? One can hope.

*Given that “Suburban light” was more of a compilation of early singles and b-sides, much like Lush’s “Gala” ten or so years earlier.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.


Vinyl love: Spiritualized “Let it come down”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Spiritualized
Album Title: Let it come down
Year released: 2001
Year reissued: 2014
Details: 2 x 180 gram

The skinny: Those of you following closely along with my backwards trip through Spiritualized’s discography* might recognize an album sized gap here. I never have been a fan of the fifth album, 2003’s “Amazing grace”, being the one album I couldn’t get into and so I never expect to add it to my vinyl shelves. In fact, I wasn’t particularly fond of this fourth album in 2001 by the group, but as the years passed, I came to realize that very little Jason Pierce could have produced would have held a flame his previous studio release** and I’ve grown an appreciation for “Let it come down”. The version I purchased for my shelves and is represented in these photos is the 2014 reissue by Plain Recordings. It’s pressed to two discs in 180 gram vinyl but other than that, it’s pretty bare bones, containing only a portion of the original artwork I remember from the compact disc copy I had back in the day. Still, I am glad I have it to give a spin on the old turntable now and again and drift off to space with J. Spaceman.

Standout track: “Stop your crying”

*Especially those of you familiar with said discography.

**More to come on that in a couple weeks.


Vinyl love: Spiritualized “Songs in A&E”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Spiritualized
Album Title: Songs in A&E
Year released: 2008
Year reissued: 2012
Details: Limited edition, 2 x LP, white, gatefold sleeve

The skinny: Continuing the backwards trend through the Spiritualized records on my vinyl shelves, we come to their 6th studio album, 2008’s “Songs in A&E”, aka the album that got me excited about one of my favourite bands again. It had felt to me like Jason ‘Spaceman’ Pierce had lost a bit of momentum with his previous two albums but when this one arrived, a whole five years after its predecessor, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Named for the period of time that he had spent in the hospital after a brush with death, this album felt like a different approach to a similar destination but one that revelled in its journey. And whenever I think of this album, I remember seeing the band supporting its release in Toronto with an afternoon slot at the Virgin festival and being tickled pink by a toddler-aged fan singing along to all the tracks and dancing with his father. Like the rest of the records that will be featured in this series, my copy is a reissue (this one in white) and was plucked from the racks of one my favourite indie record stores*.

Standout track: “Sweet talk”

*I’m pretty sure this one was found on the racks at Rotate This in Toronto.