Typically speaking, basement scene bands with two-minute-long songs tend to play hard, fast and aggressively. Not so with Philadelphia four-piece Clique. Over two years and just as many LPs, the band has developed its own unique brand of slow punk; songs that present an idea – abandonment, loneliness, empathy and apathy – stew over it gradually for a burning moment, and move onward to the next existential concern.
Clique’s latest, Burden Piece, came out in May on TopShelf Records, and delivers on the promise of its 2014 self titled debut which, as our Julie Miller put it earlier this year, was pretty much an instant hit around town. You’ll hear bits of Pavement and Weezer in the new songs, delivered with an intense sense of introversion and self-reflection by dueling singer-guitarists P.J. Carroll and Brandon Shipp, drummer Tom Anthony and bassist Travis Arterburn.
The tagline, per their label, is “regular music for regular people” – and it’s a fitting one. You get the feeling watching Clique perform that they they’re doing it for themselves, first and foremost. They’re not super chatty between songs, they often face inward to each other moreso than out towards the crowd. For the art they make, that’s a totally appropriate approach – and the personal truths they’re able to channel and present resonate in a serious way. There are many people in the world who struggle with doubt and disaffection, who yearn for connection but prefer to be left alone. And for those people, there’s Clique.
In this week’s Key Studio Session, the band kicked off with roaring song from its debut – “Medicine,” which speaks to the ways we change in an effort to get better – before launching into three cuts from Burden Piece. On “Worth,” Shipp and Aterburn harmonize a potentially bleak question many of us are often faced with: “was it worth our time?” Did it matter? Does anything we do make a difference? I ask myself this stuff all the time. And in the case of Clique, the answer across the board is a resounding yes.
Listen to this week’s Key Studio Session with Clique below, watch a performance of “Separate” via VuHaus and download the entire set here, via Soundcloud. The band has two shows coming up this month; on August 18th, they play Goldilocks Gallery in Center City with Solids, Krispy Kareem and Mich Laggi (more information via Facebook), and on August 25th, they’re at Kensington’s HH Ranch with Blue Smiley, Doubles, Fern May and Self Help (info on that show can also be found at Facebook).
Burden Piece is available now via TopShelf Records.
Clique, The Key Studio Sessions