Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Client - Command

Album Reviews
Pitchfork
June 16, 2009
Link
5.2

Command 











Great poetry, it's been said, contains more information than political speeches. Because in a really creative poem, you never know what's coming next. So like, a film by Orson Welles contains more information than other films of its day, because nobody else would shoot their scenes in exactly the same way. Sad to say, Client are not their generation's chilly UK electro-pop version of Orson Welles.

In fact, Client have basically defined themselves by withholding information-- from their anti-image image to their repetive, generic, but nonetheless well-constructed and hooky music. Core duo Kate Holmes and Sarah Blackwood originally took on the code names Client A and Client B because they didn't want to be known as, respectively, the wife of former Creation Records chief Alan McGee and the former singer for 1990s British act Dubstar. That's understandable. On fourth album Command, Client race toward goth night at your local disco, with Killing Joke's Youth (fresh off a collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney) and the Sneaker Pimps' Joe Wilson splitting production duties. Look at the cover art, though: The uniform has changed, but Client are still proudly faceless.

That's understandable, too-- not for nothing did Client cover Adam and the Ants' cynical post-punk side "Zerox" on 2007's slightly more rocking Heartland-- but their lack of a discrete identity also makes for pretty forgettable albums. Vague lyrics continue to be a sticking point, and it doesn't help that they repeat what few lyrics they have over and over again. Why, the screeching "Satisfaction" and faster, more dancefloor-ready "Blackheart" even use their first verses twice. That the lyrics consist of phrases like "junkie love, junkie love", on opener "Your Love Is Like Petrol", or "fucked-up music sounds so fresh", on next track "Can You Feel"-- and that they're often spoken unexpressively rather than sung-- probably won't attract many new fans.

Whatever makes Client so lacking in personality isn't just the lyrics, however. When they cover Curtis Mayfield's "Make Me Believe in You", the words are still fairly rote-- "You are my temptation/ Show me inspiration"-- but the frosty Eurodisco rendition doesn't give you much reason to seek this one out instead of Amerie's faithful 2007 cover, let alone Patti Jo's Tom Moulton-remixed 1973 soul jam. (Is it better than Duffy's awfully similar neo-soul hit "Mercy", though? Maybe.) Still, the problem can't be the craftsmanship, which is consistently excellent, whether in the glam stomp of "Son of a Gun" or woozy dream-pop of "In My Mind". Chugging, midtempo tracks like "Don't Run Away" and "Ghosts", arguably the catchiest songs here, recall the slick mid-1990s electro-rock of Butch Vig's Garbage, for better and worse.

Biggest bummer of all: The timing was right for a late-career breakthrough. Client were never as glamorous as Goldfrapp, never as shrill and willing to experiment as Adult., never as shoegaze-indebted and affecting as Ladytron. But when it comes to contemporary peers like Little Boots and La Roux, Command's minimalist songwriting and high-end production don't put them far behind. It's just that, once again, Client's fondness for anonymity threatens to keep them that way. If I'm repeating past reviews here, well, does this look like great poetry?

Search This Blog

Loading...

Press Mentions

"Goes over the top and stays there to very nice effect."
-- David Carr, The New York Times

"I wasn't fully convinced. But I was interested."
-- Rob Walker, The New York Times

"...as Marc Hogan wrote in Spin..."
-- Maureen Dowd, The New York Times

Blog Archive