On Clinic’s first two proper albums, the band burst with energy and new ideas. With 2001’s “Internal Wrangler,” 2002’s “Walking With Thee” and some earlier EP releases, Clinic single-handedly created their own personal universe of pop motifs. Now, with “Winchester Cathedral,” it is finally cruising around in it.
At first, critics dismissed “Winchester Cathedral” for not offering anything new. Critics went so far as to insinuate that the Liverpool-based quintet had become soft or lazy. Some of this is to be expected, as many of the songs on the new album are not only reminiscent of previous outings, but are downright copies of specific songs. “The Magician,” the album’s first single, for instance, sounds a lot like “Welcome” from “Walking With Thee,” and “WDYYB” is a carbon copy of a previous B-side “Magic Boots.”
However, the idea that a band has to reinvent themselves with every new release is a peculiarity of these post-“Kid A” times we find ourselves in. “Winchester Cathedral” is a very good album by any sane standards. The rocking parts rock and the quiet parts are pretty. As always, the trademark Clinic sound, typified by reverb drenched guitars, clarinet, melodic, and organ, is in full effect.
Clinic has crafted a genre for itself. With its third album, the band no longer needs to pioneer its own methods but simply practice them.