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The Clientele
Origin London, England, United Kingdom
Genres Indie pop
Years active 1991–present
Labels Merge Records
Pointy Records
The Track & Field Organisation
Website The Clientele's Official Website
Alasdair MacLean
Mark Keen
James Hornsey
Mel Draisey
Former members
Innes Phillips

The Clientele are a London-based British band with Alasdair MacLean on vocals and guitar, Mark Keen on drums, James Hornsey on bass and Mel Draisey on violin, keyboards, backing vocals and percussion.

The band have experienced greater success in the United States, where they are signed to Merge Records, home of bands such as Lambchop and Spoon, than in their native Britain. They have conducted several extensive U.S. tours.



MacLean and Hornsey both grew up in Hampshire, England, and began collaborating musically while still in school, after MacLean saw that Hornsey had written the name of the band Felt on his pencil case. The band formed in 1991, with the current lineup along with Innes Phillips, who shared singing and songwriting duties with MacLean; their original name was The Butterfly Collectors. The band recorded an album's worth of material but failed to get any label interest. Innes left the band (and would go on to found The Relict); the rest of the group re-formed in 1997, after which they moved to London and released a number of singles that were eventually collected on Suburban Light (2000). That compilation won the band glowing reviews; SF Weekly said the band "offers a brand of appealingly melancholy pop that might just surpass that of its forebears." [1] The Violet Hour (2003) was their first album proper, which again saw great acclaim, but, as yet, little commercial success.

August 2005 saw the release of their second full album, Strange Geometry, the first the band recorded with a producer, Brian O’Shaughnessy, who had previously produced Primal Scream. It was notable for a much cleaner production sound than the reverb-heavy sound that had previously been their defining characteristic; it was also the first time the band had used a strings section on one of their records. The task of writing these arrangements was given to Louis Philippe. Only one single, "Since K Got Over Me", was released from the album, which failed to reach the Top 75 in the UK. Another song from the album, "(I Can't Seem) To Make You Mine", was featured on the soundtrack of the film The Lake House.

Strange Geometry was quickly followed by a collection of recordings from 1991 to 1996, featuring Innes Phillips, called It's Art, Dad. After a U.S. tour in August 2006, The Clientele became a four-piece again, adding Mel Draisey (on violin, keys and percussion), who became their first female member. They then recorded the album God Save The Clientele with producer Mark Nevers, known for his work with Merge labelmates Lambchop; the album again featured several Louis Philippe-composed string arrangements. God Save The Clientele was released in May 2007 in the United States.


Their music has often been noted for its reverb-rich production [2] and MacLean's distinctive breathy vocals (an effect achieved partly by MacLean singing with a microphone plugged into a guitar amplifier) and unique guitar style. Their lyrics take a strong inspiration from surrealist literature and art from the early 20th century; "We Could Walk Together" quotes a line ("like a silver ring thrown into the flood of my heart") from a 1928 poem by French surrealist Joë Bousquet; the song "What Goes Up" quotes the poem "Stupidity Street" by Ralph Hodgson in its entirety.






  • "What Goes Up" b/w "Five Day Morning" (June 1998)
  • All The Dust And Glass: "Reflections After Jane" b/w "An Hour Before The Light" (March 1999)
  • "Lacewings" b/w "Saturday" (September 1999)
  • "I Had To Say This" b/w "Monday's Rain" (December 1999)
  • "(I Want You) More Than Ever" b/w "6 A.M. Morningside" (February 2000)
  • "Haunted Melody" b/w "Fear Of Falling" (October 2002)
  • "House On Fire" (June 2003)
  • "Lacewings" (Live) b/w "Policeman Getting Lost" (Live) (July 2004)
  • "Since K Got Over Me" (August 2005)
  • "Bookshop Casanova" (April 2007)

Split singles

  • "Held In Glass" by The Relict b/w "(I Can't Seem To) Make You Mine" by The Clientele (February 2001)
  • "Grace" by The Saturday People b/w "Porcelain" by The Clientele (July 2001)
  • "Six Foot Drop" by Clock Strikes 13 b/w "We Could Walk Together" by The Clientele (January 2002)

External links


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