The Clientele Debut “Dying in May”

The Clientele debut new single/video “Dying in May”
The Clientele photo by Photo by Andy Willsher

The Clientele have shared “Dying in May,” the new single is off their forthcoming album, I Am Not There Anymore, available July 28th via Merge Records. The UK band comprised of vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Alasdair MacLean, bassist James Hornsey, and drummer Mark Keen, kick off their tour on July 28th in London, UK, other dates include New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle.

Of the track, MacLean says: “I think ‘Dying in May’ is the first Clientele song with no guitar. It also has no chords, as such — it’s a drone, with french horn, cello and Mellotron. So the rhythm does a lot of the work — the drums and percussion are in 9/8, but the singing and instruments are in 4/4, so as each bar goes past, there’s a slightly different rhythmic emphasis. This was a complete accident, but I loved it when I heard it — the patterns are a bit disorientating, but there’s a pulse that goes through it. I almost feel I could dance to this, but not quite. It’s based on an Arabic flamenco rhythm.

“The words are all fragmented too — simple images repeating, like someone in a high fever. I took some inspiration from cante jondo, Spanish flamenco — there tend to be two or three very focused, repetitive images in the words. There was no way in hell I could play guitar along with these rhythms, so I scored out a simple melody which would leave space for the drums, and be something the bass could latch on to. By the end, the words go over and over, like someone beside themselves with grief. Hence the title. It’s a harrowing subject, but I think it’s presented with love — the song hopefully opens it out and lets some air in. It feels like an exorcism for me.”

I Am Not There Anymore regularly evokes what MacLean calls “the feeling of not being real.” A lot of the lyrics were inspired by MacLean’s memories of the early summer in 1997, when his mother died. Though the album functions as MacLean’s way of mourning, he notes that he’s not the kind of songwriter who ever sits down with a theme in mind. It’s more that “the music will bring images and then those images link of their own accord.” It’s a general mood he’s chasing with these loosely connected recollections.

The previous Clientele album, 2017’s Music for the Age of Miracles, arrived after a seven-year hiatus and featured the band’s familiar wistful melodies and haunting echo. Recording for I Am Not There Anymore began in 2019 and continued piecemeal until 2022 — in part because of the pandemic, but also because the band wanted to experiment. “We’d always been interested in music other than guitar music, like for donkey’s years,” MacLean says. This time out, the trio incorporated elements of post-bop jazz, contemporary classical and electronic music. According to MacLean, “None of those things had been able to find their way into our sound other than in the most passing way, in the faintest imprint.”

Over The Clientele’s 32-year career, critics and fans have often described their songs with words like “ethereal,” “shimmering,” “hazy,” “pretty” and “fragile.” MacLean, though, has his own interpretation of the effect his music creates. “It’s that feeling of not being there,” he says. “What’s really been in all the Clientele records is a sense of not actually inhabiting the moment that your body is in.” I Am Not There Anymore, as MacLean says, is all about “the memory of childhood but at the same time the impossibility of truly remembering childhood… or even knowing who or what you are.”

The Clientele 2023 Tour Dates

Fri. July 28 – London, UK @ Rough Trade East
Wed. Aug. 9 – Somerville, MA @ Crystal Ballroom at Somerville Theatre
Thu. Aug. 10 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Fri. Aug. 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
Sat. Aug. 12 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd
Sun. Aug. 13 – Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall
Tue. Aug. 15 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
Thu. Aug. 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room
Fri. Aug. 18 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy and Harriet’s
Sat. Aug. 19 – Big Sur, CA @ Fernwood Tavern (inside)
Sun. Aug. 20 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
Tue. Aug. 22 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Wed. Aug. 23 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern

Pre-order I Am Not There Anymore by The Clientele HERE


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