Clinic

This is the fourth album from the eclectic Liverpool four piece and the best way to describe it is to let the man who is responsible for its greatness sum it up. " The rule is: surprise yourself," says singer Ade Blackburn. "We went for something direct and primitive – surreal ballads next to subhuman riffs." Visitations is a grimy, tense and moody affair that is utterly compelling from start to finish and it's largely down to the pent up ferocity of their front man. If you got into a fight with Clinic you'd be wise to keep your eye on Ade Blackburn. He'd be seething silently in the background but would be the one most likely to do serious damage. His buddies with the instruments do a lot of shouting but he manages to keep his cool for just over 32 minutes and it's gripping to witness. For the most part the guitars are fierce but fuzzy and often threaten to drown the almost indecipherable vocals. Blackburn spits his lyrics through gritted teeth and that's where the power lies. He breeds a tension and urgency from this delivery that keeps you on your toes and locks in your attention like a rabbit in the headlights.

From the outset Visitations lets you know that this ain't gonna be pretty and some people may get hurt. The fierce guitars and heavy drums of Family herald the start of a rough but rewarding road ahead while Tusk does its best to pulverise your eardrums. Although these are typical of Clinic's ability to produce hard hitting, gritty rock gems the most arresting moments come in their down time. Animal/Human is a beautiful tripped out Velvet Underground moment while Paradise recalls the sparse, hollow melodies of Cowboy Junkie's cover of Sweet Jane. But as fine as these moments are the best of all comes in the form of Harvest (Within You). This is to be the first single off Visitations and it's a wise choice. It's a dirty little bitch of a song and I'll be damned if it isn't the most toe tapping, funky number I've heard in ages. It builds up in subtle layers of instruments and just as you feel you could nod to this rhythm all day it rises gracefully to almost Doors like majesty.

Clinic manage to change tempo with effortless confidence but never take a drop in intensity. Their music stares you in the face and challenges you to look away. Blackburn ends proceedings with the title track that is based around the repeated line "Don't get close" and although Clinic do their best to keep you at arms length I strongly urge you to defy Ade's words and get as close as you can to Visitations. It won't be a comfy snuggle by the fire but it's guaranteed to be a friend for life.