I’ve felt in the past that I’ve been a little unkind to Client on this blog, and not intentionally so. Their first two albums Client and City are both great in their own way. Subsequent albums Heartland and Command might have been mistakes, as they decided they could go it on their own without a major record label and set about trying to make their fans give them as much money as possible, but those first two albums are undeniably good.
City opens with the brilliant single Radio, and Sarah Blackwood‘s (Client B) brilliantly deadpan vocal complements it perfectly. They do, from time to time, succumb to the idea that the noise-based shock factor is more important the song, as with second track Come On, which is one of the weakest on the album, but by and large City is a pop album, and a very good one too.
Overdrive brings the melody back to the fore, where it definitely belongs. It’s raw and gristly, just as Client‘s sound was always meant to be, but it also has a very melodic, human side. One Day at a Time illustrates this even better – again, it’s dark, and you probably wouldn’t want to look at it the wrong way if you passed it in an alleyway, but it’s also a chirpy little synthpop tune that might even feel at home in the early 1980s. It even has a little help from Martin L. Gore on vocals.
First single In it for the Money follows, with a lot of chanty shouting. They were obviously a little conflicted here – some versions are rather more obscene than others (the “sucking corporate rock” line varies between recordings) but the album version is very definitely censored.
Third single Pornography follows, Client‘s only top 40 hit, and the first of two tracks in collaboration with The Libertines, this one with Carl Barât. It’s easily Client‘s catchiest track, and with a bit of work might have actually made a decent impact on the charts (it peaked at number 22).
Barât’s bandmate Pete Doherty turns up on the next track Down to the Underground, and as with Pornography it has a gloriously chaotic feel to it, as though it was recorded within a couple of hours and nobody really knew what was going on.
The Chill of October is probably the most laid back song on the album, and also one of the best. It’s orchestral, it’s autumnal, and it’s also rather angry too. The little instrumental that follows, entitled Theme, gets us back to the more electronic side of things in time for another potential single Don’t Call Me Baby, which is in a slightly odd place on the album given how cheery it is, but again it’s one of the best tracks on here.
Early Client albums always seemed to illustrate a certain anger with rock and roll, and It’s Rock and Roll is where that happens this time around. Again, it’s chirpy, slightly cross, and another great song.
But in spite of having a lot of tracks, this album is short and sweet, and the final song is Everything Must End, one of the less catchy entries on here. This isn’t a perfect album, but it’s as close as Client would ever get – it’s definitely a shame it wasn’t more commercially successful, as this was really the time when they deserved to do well.
You can still find City from all major retailers.