Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 60)
Like Radiohead's Amnesiac
and Boards of Canada's Geogaddi
before them, Clinic’s Walking With Thee
continues to explore the vast sonic landscape constructed by its predecessor Internal Wrangler
. Unlike Radiohead though, Clinic never moved on from that landscape. For their next decade of existence Clinic continued putting out consistently good albums in the Internal Wrangler
mode. Most of these records really are quite good but it’s hard not to be disappointed by a band that debuted so adventurous and daring keeping their sound firmly in their wheelhouse for the next decade.
This has its advantages, primarily this approach allowed Clinic the confidence of a band that knows exactly what they’re doing. 2002’s Walking With Thee
is a confident followup to a phenomenal record but it’s also less solid than its predecessor. Where Internal Wrangler
had a clear focus and sense of purpose, Clinic seem unsure of how to follow it up. Walking With Thee
is not the great leap forward many hoped for but a holding pattern, albeit, a very good holding pattern with a few undeniable highlights.
Bewitching opener “Harmony” is the first of these. Beginning with sampled “ha”s (Pulled from Laurie Anderson’s eternal “O Superman”) and eerie reverbed synth, “Harmony” presents an instantly definable atmosphere seemingly lifted from a Kubrickian horror film. As the melody goes swirling into the chorus the effect is as if the song is constantly rising just off the ground without ever taking off. “The Equalizer” grooves with rattled chains and Ade Blackburn’s snakecharmer voice while “Welcome” asks “who could you disintegrate for?” The title track is Walking With Thee
’s high mark, as Clinic put their larger production budget to great use, constructing a massive groove that start, stops, and cuts on a dime. Closer “For the Wars” effortlessly slides back into “Harmony”s atmosphere for one of Clinic’s best songs, a gorgeous waltz that leaves the album on a lingering note of unresolve.
Unfortunately, the stretch of songs between “Walking With Thee” and “For the Wars” never dip below solid or rise above good, making the album feel much longer than it is. “Mr. Moonlight” is another excellent ballad and “Come into Our Room” has an intense voyeurs leer but both are sequenced together and not enough to break up the monotony. While this stretch doesn’t obscure Walking With Thee
’s high points it makes for a disappointing back half, making for an album that wouldn’t lose Clinic any fans but it wasn’t going to win them many either. An appropriate forecast for their next decade.