Hot

Today was the hottest day of the year. All the dust and fumes lie on the city like a fat blanket, and the cars send out thick slicks of bass. It's hardly your autumnal Clientele weather of legend, is it? But the city feels uneasy in this heat, we're not comfortable as it's getting dark. The Violet Hour sounds perfect here: all heat-haze and languor and velvet and tension.

Tom heard ´Lamplight' and noticed a guitar figure. He said 'If Coldplay had that they'd double the volume and stick it at the start of the song and put it in the verses and after the chorus. For the Clientele that's just a moment.' The songs are packed full of such moments, hooks and ideas. They make perfect sense to me but I know them quite well now. I wonder whether an impulse as oblique as the Clientele's is still a pop impulse? Is there a better word? These are immediate times, but we haven't renounced subtlety, have we? We have Beyonce at number one, it's summer outside, we're alright for now.

I was reading Under The Volcano by Gilbert Sorrentino. It's a novel, I suppose, perhaps because there isn't a better word. It's full of short pieces (´vignettes', the cover says) which tell a ton of small and large stories. Some images and forms pop up repeatedly, often unexpectedly. It's oddly potent: it throws up unsettled thrills and disjointed recognition, amazing moments. Maybe it's an obvious comparison, but The Clientele do something similar in their words and in their melodies, worrying away at ideas and words, re-working and re-meaning. It's hard to know whether it's a pop impulse or not: it's a delicate thing and these are not delicate times in pop or anywhere. I want to misquote: in such brutal times the only true rebellion is delicacy. Is that true? Probably not, but it says something about The Violet Hour, about its power and perversity, that I'd even consider it.

Today I heard that Medina Road, the basement studio The Clientele put together to make this record as it had to be made, has been dismantled. It's the hottest day so far this year.

© 2003 Tim Hopkins


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