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Friday, December 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 38.0° F  Fair
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The Clientele
Friday, June 1, High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm

Sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll? In the intellectual new world of indie, band lifestyles are often more beholden to art and poetry and chamber music.

Case in point: Alasdair MacLean of the British indie-pop band the Clientele. In a blog, MacLean writes about a favorite album he's been spinning. It's 71 minutes of organ drones by Charlemagne Palestine. The disc is recorded in an old reverberating church. "The sound grows and grows as he holds down more keys," writes MacLean. "If you concentrate the effect is hypnotic, celestial."

It's no wonder the Clientele's music brims with lush arrangements and reverb. Their n ew album, God Save the Clientele, is a gently bright collection of pop music reminiscent of '60s icons like the Monkees and Burt Bacharach.

The Clientele formed a decade ago just outside of London, with frontman MacLean joined by bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen. Recently the band became coed with the addition of Mel Draisey on piano and violin.

God Save the Clientele opens with "Here Comes the Phantom," a bouncy piano song that recalls "Daydream Believer." "Dance of the Hours" typifies the album's baroque arrangements of violin, acoustic guitar, bass, piano and drums.

The Clientele plug in and rock out for a too-brief two-minute track. It's too bad. There may be plenty of beauty in their layered restraint, but their electric energy is irresistible.

Indie has become an introspective thing. Is it a sign of an overbearing age that has pulled us inward?

MacLean's blog paints the world in sad shades of impressionistic gray. On tour and rolling through Cleveland on a snowy evening, he looks out his window and sees a dreary landscape.

"I really get a sense of the isolation of this country, the loneliness," he writes. "[It's] scratching out a mark on these endless fields of snow, whose message to us can only be that we should leave as fast as possible, and go as far as we can."

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