The Clientele

I Am Not There Anymore (Merge)

Contact Patrick Tilley about The Clientele

Today, cherished UK trio The Clientele releases “Claire’s Not Real,” the new single from their forthcoming album, I Am Not There Anymore, out July 28th on Merge. This time out, The Clientele — vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Alasdair MacLean, bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen — incorporated elements of post-bop jazz, contemporary classical and electronic music to their work. According to MacLean, “None of those things had been able to find their way into our sound other than in the most passing way, in the faintest imprint.” The result is songs like “Claire’s Not Real,” which shifts fluidly from a light bossa nova beat to The Clientele’s classic chamber pop. “And sometimes I’m walking home // At my door // I am not there anymore,” MacLean sings atop lush instrumentation, “I am not there anymore // Do you know what I mean?


MacLean notes that he’s not the kind of songwriter who ever sits down with a theme in mind; it’s more that “the music will bring images and then those images link of their own accord.” On “Claire’s Not Real,” MacLean evokes the all-too familiar eerie beauty of a sky lit orange by forest fires. “I was in Cercedilla in Spain in summer 2020,” he says of the track. “There was suddenly a rain of ash and an orange glow on the horizon, and I read on my phone that nearby Ávila was burning with forest fires. This moment found its way into several songs on the album.”


This August, The Clientele will embark on a U.S. tour, featuring stops at Bowery Ballroom in New York City, Lodge Room in Los Angeles, Lincoln Hall in Chicago, and more. All dates are listed below and tickets are on sale now.


Recording for I Am Not There Anymore began in 2019 and continued piecemeal until 2022 — in part because of the pandemic, but also because the band wanted to experiment. “We’d always been interested in music other than guitar music, like for donkey’s years,” MacLean says. Over their 32-year career, critics and fans have often described The Clientele’s songs with words like “ethereal,” “shimmering,” “hazy,” “pretty” and “fragile.” MacLean, though, has his own interpretation of the effect his music creates. “It’s that feeling of not being there,” he says. “What’s really been in all the Clientele records is a sense of not actually inhabiting the moment that your body is in.”


I Am Not There Anymore regularly evokes what MacLean calls “the feeling of not being real.” A lot of the lyrics were inspired by MacLean’s memories of the early summer in 1997, when his mother died.  Though the album functions as MacLean’s way of mourning, it’s a general mood he’s chasing with these loosely connected recollections. As MacLean says, I Am Not There Anymore is all about “the memory of childhood but at the same time the impossibility of truly remembering childhood… or even knowing who or what you are.”