The Clientele may be on hold, but together with Lupe Núñez-Fernández, Alasdair MacLean is back as one half of Amor de Días. Any music that Alasdair makes other than as a strictly guest picker is of course going to be imbued with his sensibility, so there are many moments when Street of the love of days might be a Clientele album, but there are just as many when it could not, thanks to the blending of his songwriting with Lupe’s. It’s generally lighter than the often sombre and haunted tones of the Clientele, and more consistently acoustic, but then perhaps it’s also poppier than the Clientele have been at any time since their early singles were collected together as Suburban light. Vocal duties are alternated and you get the sense that the duo are having a conversation, a dialogue; not an inward-looking one, but one where both writers are looking out into the world from slightly different vantage points, a world of urban and pastoral light, deriving from both sources something of the same feeling.
Bracketed by the opening and closing ‘Foxes’ song’ , the track list reads like the contents of a volume of bucolic nineteenth century poetry, from ‘House of flint’ to ‘Wild winter trees’, taking in ‘Bunhill Fields’ and ‘Touchstone’. But although the setting is quintessentially English, the music is flecked with Iberian and (less obviously) Brazilian influences; that track listing disguises a number of songs sung in Spanish. You could triangulate three other duos to end up with Alasdair and Lupe – the Catalanonian blending of Guillermo Scott Herren and Eva Puyuelo Muns as Savath and Savalas, whose Apropa’t in particular has the same feel of magic and light; John and Yoko, as late as Double fantasy; and, given the harmonies of ‘Dream (dead hands)’, the Everly Brothers. But that probably demonstrates my listening more than theirs.
It’s as instrumentally rich as we have become accustomed to the Clientele being, with a variety of guests adding to the pot – Damon & Naomi, Louis Philippe, Gary Olson of Ladybug Transistor. Produced by Ken Brake, it sounds gorgeous, quite apart from making any judgment of the songs themselves.
Stand-out moments are ‘House of flint’, a song which deserves to have been made to sound as lovely as it does. ‘Harvest time’ is here in its original form, softer and dreamier and a little more nineteenth century than the sharply psychedelic version recorded for Bonfires on the heath. And just like the album as a whole, the title song winds its ivy melodies around you.