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Clinic: Free Reign (Domino) 

Liverpool's Clinic could never be accused of laziness. Since 2000's Internal Wrangler, they have released an album every other year. Their rate of productivity has also been a source of criticism—specifically, that they always sound the same. (The fact that the band has always performed wearing surgical masks and scrubs doesn't help.) However, this is both false and a bit unfair.

Heavily influenced by '60s psych/garage, '70s Krautrock and British post-punk, Clinic's sound is, by nature, limited to those parameters. However, listening to their back catalog reveals anything but a band simply repeating itself. While 2002's Walking With Thee was heavy on the dubbed-up melodica, and 2008's Do It! collected psych romp stomps, Free Reign dabbles with a more-experimental approach. The album's title is a good description of the songs: It lets go of some of their familiar trappings, while retaining some of the best aspects of previous albums.

Opener "Misty" comes about as close to Kid A territory as Clinic is ever likely to get, and it's a refreshing start for anyone expecting a repeat of the straight-up pop of 2010's Bubblegum. "Cosmic Radiation," on the other hand, could easily be mistaken for an outtake from the last Flaming Lips album (besides sounding like the name of a Lips song).

While drum machines and wah-wah pedal abound on "Miss You," the clarinet on trippy album closer "Sun and the Moon" even contains a vague nod to the bridge of "I'm Only Sleeping" by their more-famous Liverpudlian forefathers.

This is good stuff.

More by Brian Mock

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