Even as the Clientele's hazy, soft-focus indie pop suggests the influence of virtually every musical ancestor worth acknowledging, the band's pastoral beauty nevertheless conjures a dreamscape entirely its own; fusing the heady otherness of psychedelia with the gentle caress of folk, Suburban Light swirls and settles like gold dust. Like the artist Joseph Cornell, the titular subject of one of the disc's most memorable songs, the Clientele assemble and juxtapose found fragments (collected from forebears like Love, Nick Drake, and Donovan) and transform their source materials into something magical and new; although the record's 13 cuts assemble various singles and scattered recordings, the finished product hangs together with a clear sense of purpose and scope. While Alasdair MacLean's plain-spoken, heartfelt vocals and subtle guitar arpeggios are the focus of the record, it's impossible to underrate the thoughtful, always supportive bass playing of James Hornsey and drummers Daniel Evans and Howard Monk. Together they create a haunting, poetic, and rich sound that's unlike any indie pop being created by their contemporaries. Suburban Light is a brilliant introduction to the band, and over repeated listens, the songs grow both more distinctive and more interconnected, boasting a richly nuanced intricacy as intoxicating as it is elusive.
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny