CLINIC The Return Of Evil Bill (Domino)

CLINIC Internal Wrangler (Domino)

Clinic are a Liverpool quartet formerly known as Pure Morning, and after beginning their recording career with the NME-broadsiding single "IPC Sub-Editors Dictate Our Youth" and being voted the best new band at the 1998 Glastonbury Festival their new single, "The Return Of Evil Bill" and "Internal Wrangler", their debut album proper, have arrived.

And it's a strange, strange sound that they make. Heavy dub echoes snuggle up to spaghetti western soundtracks like Lee Perry stuck in a lift with Ennio Morricone, fragments of Perry Como, Beethoven, The Velvet Underground and birdsong crack the mirror a little further and the whole kit caboodle gets wrapped in sufficient skunk punk fervour to dispatch fourteen songs in a shade over 30 minutes. But despite such odorous comparisons no other band comes within spitting distance of Clinic's music, and despite sounding oppressive and alienating at first further listens will find songs such as "Goodnight Georgie" burrowing into your consciousness. There's definitely something good in these sparked, crude electro grooves, complete enough to sound entirely their own but sufficiently sparse to suggest that Clinic are some way from exhausting their musical trick bag.

CLINIC Walking With Thee (Domino)

CLINIC Walking With Thee (Domino)

Not being a band known for lingering lengthily over the process of music making, "Walking With Thee", Clinic's new single, lasts 156 seconds, much of which is taken up by a chorus in which Ade Blackburn repeatedly barks "No!". But in that brief time they manage to fuse the motorik rhythms of Neu! with grinding Velvets-style organ, which is enough to suggest that Clinic remain as wantonly perverse and unpolluted by the mainstream as ever.

Or are they? Clinic's second studio album, also titled "Walking With Thee", seems to be a far more musical beastie than their spiky debut "Internal Wrangler". It's tempting to suggest that this new-found (relative) harmony might be a result of touring with Radiohead, who, even at their "Kid A" outermost, are a far more commercial proposition than Clinic will ever be. (Let's just assume Clinic's brief career soundtracking Levi ads was an aberration.) There's more melody and variety here, and the songs have grown and expanded in both length and breadth.

Opener "Harmony" is a children's bedtime story gone badly awry, Blackburn threatening "Come fill yourself with dreams" as a sinister melodica wails in the background. "Pet Eunoch" rages like The Stooges, complete with the obligatory one finger piano line. "For The Wars" closes the album on a mournful waltz that sounds not unlike an upholstered version of "Internal Wrangler"'s last gasp, "Goodnight Georgie". And possibly the best of the bunch, the spooky robotic electronica of "Come Into Our Room" is Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" in a deep freeze.

The noise made by Clinic is still deliberately uncomfortable, a mix of dub, Krautrock, The Velvet Underground and Suicide's spiky electricity. In fact, it sounds not a million miles away from last year's Snuff Vs Urban Dub album, although the edge-of-terror outbursts of the latter have been calmed into something quieter and far more unsettling. But for a band who claim complete ignorance of and freedom of influence from The Beatles, is it complete coincidence that one of their songs is called "Mr Moonlight"?