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Clinic | Wheeltappers & Shunters

Get with the program as the British outliers take their weirdness to new heights.

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Clinic have always been in a league of their own. But this time the surgical-masked Liverpool outliers are taking it to another level. Wheeltappers & Shunters, their eighth album and first offering in eight years, is titled after The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, a ’70s British TV variety show set in a fictional working men’s club in the North of England. But you don’t need to start trolling YouTube for old episodes to make the most of this dozen-track oddity. You just need an appreciation for Clinic’s utterly unique brand of psychedelic garage-rock — a tense, anxious, paranoid and decidedly creepy sound far closer to The Residents, The Fall and Suicide than any of their more famous and/or fab Liverpool predecessors. To their credit, they certainly don’t overdo it: The disc is over and done after just 26 fat-free minutes. But in that brief time, Clinic manage to create their own sonic variety show by cramming every moment with imaginative ideas and idiosyncrasies, not to mention a few gags. The disc even comes with its own laugh track — assuming you count Laughing Cavalier’s refrain of, “Ha ha ha / hee hee hee / ho ho ho.” Either way, your best bet is to get with the program.