Right down to its gritty, mod-punk art direction, Walking With Thee seems like it should fit right in with Clinic's previous work. Indeed, the group's second full-length album could've been a carbon copy of their debut, Internal Wrangler, but to Clinic's credit, the band makes a few changes, opting for a smoother production and a quieter, more implosive sound than their previous work offered. Frustratingly, though, most of these changes end up detracting from the group's strengths and diluting the album's impact. Walking With Thee's production is far from slick, but a huge part of Clinic's appeal was that the band seemed to record in an underwater garage, giving their songs a fuzzy, cavernous sound that made their messy, thrashy moments even more dangerously alluring and their ballads that much more affecting. Stripped nearly bare of reverb and static, much of Walking With Thee sounds incomplete, particularly on the almost-punk of "Pet Eunuch," "Welcome," and "The Equaliser," which, with its rattling percussion and driving bassline, could've rivaled Internal Wrangler's ugly-beautiful intensity if had a little more oomph. However, the album isn't a total washout -- for every lackluster moment, there's one that connects. "The Vulture" and "Walking With Thee" nearly reach the frenzied, strangely sexy, bottom-dwelling heights (depths?) of Clinic's best work. And beginning with the chilly, hypnotic opener, "Harmony," many of the album's quietest moments are the most compelling. Filmic tracks like "Come Into Our Room" and the dreamy finale "For the Wars" follow suit, though their brooding, stark sound will only strengthen the Radiohead comparisons. There's a lot of promise on Walking With Thee, but nothing here touches the deadpan cool of Internal Wrangler's "The Second Line," the detached poignancy of "Distortion," or the raw energy of "Second Foot Stomp." The band sounds like they're still figuring out how to make the urgency of their previous work jell with a more polished, experimental sound, which makes Walking With Thee not so much a progression or regression as a step sideways. Clinic is still one of the most intriguing acts around, and while this isn't the masterpiece the band has the potential to deliver, an interesting disappointment from them is still better than a successful but boring album from a less-inspired group.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares