When "Country Mile," the first song from Winchester Cathedral, begins, it's instantly recognizable as typical Clinic: Singer Ade Blackburn's eerie, Thom Yorke-with-lockjaw crooning and the four musicians' mesmerizing drone rhythms are as present here as when we last checked in with the group. But while Blackburn always remains in character (the stoic observer in a fast-motion, sepia-toned world), there's something fresh about the arrangements on this record thanks to the addition of woodwinds, piano, and new approaches to percussion (a little less drum machine and backbeats, a little more shaker). The results are songs that sound more open and lively than Clinic's typical stale rhythmic hypnosis (there are even bits of klezmer here). Winchester gets further away from what we've learned to expect from the band as the record progresses, and, beginning with track eight, the joyous, nod-inducing "The Majestic," the songs may very well be the best Clinic has written.
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