Review: Ascend to heaven with Client Liaison’s ‘Divine Intervention’

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Review: Ascend to heaven with Client Liaison’s ‘Divine Intervention’

Client Liaison
Words by Joseph Carbone

The Melbourne 80s fundamentalists return with their second album, where they trade in the cubicles for pews and the promise of a great party beyond the clouds.

Isn’t it usually said that those who successfully perform satire show a complete understanding of the very thing that they’re satirising? That said satire comes from a place of deep affection as well as wanting to have a poignant take on the issue at hand? Monte Morgan and Harvey Miller, a.k.a. Client Liaison, are born satirists.

They emerged several years ago as an 80s-revivalist pop act with glitzy faux-office aesthetics and disco inspired, synth-forward writing chops. They looked to the capitalistic past to comment on the capitalistic present and through their campy, glamorously obvious commentary on the corporate elite, reminded us that the party still rules supreme. 

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On Divine Intervention, their delayed (thanks, pandemic) second album, the duo take their messaging further by promising high-rise office workers the realisation of a higher purpose. Through the (similarly obvious) enticing iconography of club-as-church, they warn nine to five listeners of an encroaching emptiness and stage an intervention where the 12-steps become 14: the album’s tracklist. And the journey from fake sobriety to inebriated truth is rapturously good fun.

 The album’s first leg focuses on corporate exasperation; tales of late nights chipping at the soul on ‘Strictly Business’, the search for fake chino-and-white-shirt love on ‘Champagne Affection’, and the aptly titled ‘Eulogy for the Living’, which opens with slight shades of INXS’s biggest hit before transitioning into a cautionary tale against making your office your home. 

It’s during this first leg of the album where the strongest and most consistent stretch of tracks occur, from ‘Cold to Touch’ through to ‘Prisoners of the High Life’, where the sameness of much of the song structures has yet to truly effect the listening experience and the vibes are generally immaculate. (Special mention should go to ‘Champagne Affection’ for the satisfying descending repeats of ‘gimme that’ during the chorus.)

Refreshingly, unlike most modern releases, the tracklist moves with logical sense. After the more downbeat warnings of ‘Eulogy for the Living’ and ‘Prisoners of the High Life’ comes ‘Intervention’, which is exactly what it sounds like. Bursting open with a scratch guitar and rounded robotic bass, the quick syncopated lyrics promise new life on a night of fun. From here, simply reading the track titles can parse out the story: ‘Elevator Up’, ‘House Of Holy’, ‘The Beat Supreme’. It’s time for the congregation to gather under the altar of the DJ and live the life the Lord intended for us. High up in the clouds. 

It helps that these tunes are as intriguing as any Client Liaison have released. ‘Elevator Up’ is an unashamed club banger, with pulsing bass and drums and surging trumpets leading each phrase into the next. ‘House Of Holy’ just feels like success, a congratulatory message to those who made it to mass, albeit with a chorus that unfortunately has more than a few points of similarity with ‘Get Lucky’, itself an iconic throwback. And ‘The Beat Supreme’ references INXS and Icehouse by name and is a great “retroactive” love letter to the music Morgan and Miller have been referencing for their entire career.

The one significant knock to be made against Divine Intervention is, as mentioned above, a similarity in song structure that may have you gritting your teeth when you encounter yet another bridge in halftime and at a lower volume. That being said, it’s a relatively minor gripe, and it’s not like many people listen to albums from front to back anymore anyway. 

If Client Liaison started a cult, there’d be plenty of people queuing for the front door – and Divine Intervention is a great text of holy works, filled with anti-corporate goodness and an adamance for the cure of the club. Let’s hope the next testament is as exciting. 

Read our interview with them about the new album here.

Check out Client Liaison’s website for tour and other info.