Pick any adjective commonly associated with gentle British pop -- from fragile to fey, winsome to wimpy -- and it's doubtful that you'll find a better use for it than to describe the music of the Clientele. With guitars shimmering like raindrops on leaves, cardboard-box drumming, and the refined murmur of Alasdair MacLean, the London trio hasn't raised its collective voice above a whisper in over a decade filled with one-off singles and EPs. But those with keen hearing have discovered some of the loveliest late-night psychedelia ever conjured.
As his haunted, literate lyrics suggest, MacLean is a former man of letters. But his time in publishing came to an ignoble end after he argued against a book about a then-unknown teenage magician named Harry Potter. MacLean's musical judgment has been more sound, and the Clientele's 2005 sophomore album, the pretty, lithe Strange Geometry, has won the band -- now touring America for the second time this year -- some of the best reviews of its career.