Clinic–The Second Line

While technically the song may be in English, Clinic’s The Second Line is intentional gibberish, untranslatable and inexplicable.  The band is all about crafting new moods from the same basic tools as everyone else.  So what better way to play on that than to use lead singer Ade Blackburn’s spectacularly distinctive voice purely as an instrument.  The start of the song is so simple and dreamy.  With a drum machine beat and melodic guitar, it sounds like the band is gearing up for a The Bends era Radiohead track.  But the second Blackburn starts singing it transforms everything.  There is suddenly discord.  There is suddenly new interest.  Within 30 seconds, the song has found a strange, funky groove.  It’s spare, to be sure, but also movement inducing.  The guitar now alternates between its comfortable lull and jarring squelches.  And the vocals build.  As opposed to speaking total nonsense, syllables that sound like they could be English, the band actually drops in out of context words, like the delightfully evocative phrase “Western boys.”  It’s a neat trick, forcing your brain to try to decipher something that isn’t there and adding to the overall mystery of the track.  Of course, Clinic always were clever like that.

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