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Albums Of The Week: Clinic | Fantasy Island

Sure, the Liverpool synth-rock oddballs' ninth disc is slightly warmer and sunnier than its weird forebears, but rest assured, this is still a long way from surf music.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Clinic’s ninth studio album Fantasy Island is another vibrant and eclectic LP that finds the Grammy-nominated North West duo transporting us to tropical climes — after a fashion, at least — over the course of 12 distinctly different tracks.

Fantasy Island was recorded in an old studio on Merseyside during the summer of 2019, with good vibrations seeping into the grooves, “Clinic look to a brighter future,” the band claim. Their last album, 2019’s Wheeltappers and Shunters, found the band satirising British culture and wallowing in sleazy ’70s nostalgia. This time they embrace the “the idea of looking at the future and the different ways it can unfold,” with their most electronic and pop record to date.

Referencing H.G. WellsThings to Come, Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage and Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan, the themes Clinic explore on this album are time, music and entertainment. In a (coco) nutshell, Clinic have embraced funky disco, broadening their sonic palette with the addition of several new gadgets including an electronic acid bass machine, a 1970s cocktail rhythm unit, a Casio digital horn and space drum. This gear comes to the fore in the centrepiece of Fantasy Island, the incredible Refractions (In the Rain), which nods to the Human League with its strident synthesizer lines and danceable beats, with the groovy, swaggering menace that Clinic always bring to the party.

Elsewhere on the album, Clinic cover Ann PeeblesI Can’t Stand The Rain in a delirious manner. “It’s a tin of fruit cocktail,” says one of the band, and there is definitely a lighter, more escapist mood to Fantasy Island. As well as Human League, other musical influences on the album include Fun Boy Three, Kid Creole And The Coconuts and early 1980s pop music, but also Italian cosmic disco mix tapes and primitive busker elements, such as the Memphis Jug Band and old blues music, which balance the sound and give Fantasy Island its raw energy. Only Clinic are capable of pulling these disparate references together to make a cohesive, thrilling whole with mixing duties handled by Claudius Mittendorfer (Parquet Courts, Neon Indian).”