Dopo una pausa di sette anni, la band di Liverpool tra post-punk e pop sperimentale Clinic torna con l’ottavo album Wheeltappers and Shunters in uscita il 10 maggio su Domino. L’insolito titolo deriva da uno spettacolo di varietà ormai dimenticato in onda negli anni ’70 su ITV, The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, condotto da Bernard Manning, che ricreava l’atmosfera fumosa e alcolica dei lavoratori del nord per un pubblico incollato al divano.
L’album non è né una celebrazione né una denigrazione della cultura di quel periodo, nel quale Blackburn e Hartley sono cresciuti. “è uno sguardo satirico sulla cultura britannica – tra alti e bassi,” spiega Blackburn. “Mi affascina che le persone guardino agli anni ’70 come se fossero giorni gloriosi. è emerso che c’era un lato più oscuro e perverso di quel periodo. Quando ripensi al passato oggi, era chiaro che fosse nella cultura mainstream.”
“It’s been a pisstake thing between us for quite a few years,” reveals Ade Blackburn, Clinic spokesman, of the show that the album title references. “Whenever we’d talk about a song sounding too ‘cabaret’ or too nice, we’d say, ‘That’s a bit Wheeltappers and Shunters’.
The first track to be shared from Wheeltappers and Shunters is ‘Rubber Bullets’, fifties rock’n’roll is the order of the day as Blackburn grunts “Neanderthal” over a twanging rockabilly guitar riff à la Scotty Moore.
Watch the video – directed by Joseph May – for ‘Rubber Bullets’ here.
Stream ‘Rubber Bullets’ here.
The album was recorded last year in founding band member Hartley’s Liverpool studio, before they brought in Dilip Harris (King Krule, Sons Of Kemet, Mount Kimbie) to mix it. “We thought it felt right to make a fun, dancefloor album in these dark and conservative times,” Blackburn continues. Fun, sure, but this is Clinic – their brand of fun oozes with menace.
The Great Britain that Clinic are evoking is not that ancient, bucolic past of village green cricket, half a mild and hanky-waving Morris Dancers that many seem so determined that the country should return to, but a rather more sleazy past. Clinic’s reverie is for a time when Blackpool was the pleasure capital of the kingdom and the public was kept entertained by travelling circuses and the dirty glamour of the funfair; tacky end of the pier merriment and enforced fun at Butlins; when bell-ringing town criers bellowed their nonsensical broadsides into the ether.
For most bands about to enter their third decade as an entity the well would be running dry, but eight albums in and Clinic still retain the ability to surprise. Clocking in at just over 28 minutes, Wheeltappers and Shunters is an absolute blast, rich in detail and sonic intrigue, those precious minutes stuffed with ideas. “We’d released albums like clockwork every two years, so it seemed natural to have a break,” Blackburn reveals. “It allowed everyone to do some quite oddball stuff, away from Clinic. I think we all wanted a bit more freedom.”
Additionally, Clinic have announced they will play BBC’s 6 Music Festival in Liverpool later this month.
1. Laughing Cavalier
3. Rubber Bullets
5. Ferryboat of the Mind
8. Flying Fish
9. Be Yourself/Year of the Sadist
12. New Equations at the Copacabana
Upcoming live dates
Sunday 31st March – BBC 6 Music Festival, Liverpool