Lullaby-Rock Flatlines in Long, Drawn-Out Bonfire

The Clientele
Bonfires on the Heath
4/10

One part Floyd, one part bossa nova and one part elevator music, the Clientele’s Bonfires on the Heath proves that a solid shtick isn’t always a good thing.

Think of the album as half of a cosine wave: It starts off strong for a brief moment, climbing steadily upward, then drops straight downhill toward an infinite void — all the while remaining wholly and utterly unsexy.

The first track, “I Wonder Who We Are,” features Alasdair MacLean in a role we’re actually glad to hear him in: slow, Ella Fitzgerald-esque scatter with big-band percussive piano and horns to back him.

From there on, however, we might as well be sucking down a bottle of Codeine. “Bonfires on the Heath” drowns us in guitar slides upon guitar slides to the point of “Revolution 9” repetition — about as much listenability as a metronome.

With flu season and cough-induced insomnia en route, this snooze-button album isn’t entirely inappropriate. And, all sarcasm aside, there are a few tracks that approach the band’s earlier, more energetic appeal. But even the funky “Sketch” falls apart when MacLean drops in to accompany his breathiness with cowbell overkill.

At least Bob Dylan channels the struggle of the people — what’s MacLean’s excuse?

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