I've just danced around the room and celebrated as if I'd won the World Cup as there's a new the Chills album due. The legendary New Zealand group returned in 2015 with the excellent Silver Bullets which was as good as anything they recorded in their heyday. Their precise yet emotional economic pop is certainly welcome round here.
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When I heard there was a new the Chills album I actually did a twirl - I was that excited. Always a favourite band of mine, after a slow start I found myself loving their last album 'Silver Bullets' perhaps even more than some of the records they made in their heyday. Their music always takes a long time to cut through and perhaps that's why initially I'm not panicking too much about the fact that I'm not getting on with 'Snow Bound' at all. I was a bit concerned having seen some of their recent live shows that this is the sort of album they might make -i.e a bit polished, a bit pub rock. Live, you could look at the Chills and they wouldn't stand out from any other pub rock band on the circuit except for the fact that they have an absolute master class songwriter at their helm. As a result perhaps, the album sounds a bit clunky. As if the songs are being played with boxing gloves.
Martin Phillips still has good tunes up his locker and there are one or two good ones here. Both 'Time to Atone' and 'Complex' have typically unusual Martin Phillips structures both interesting melodically and earworm catchy. However there's something a bit AOR about the arrangements - this is most notable on tracks like 'Lord Of All I Survey' which is typical the Chills throughout except for a Radio 2 friendly chorus that is so far away from the Chills ethic of clever, economical pop that it's something of a shock to the system. 'Eazy Peazy' meanwhile is just terrible - awful. How did this get through?
It's just not esoteric or colourful enough and a bit...um bland with very heavy handed arrangements and 'will this do?' melodies. There are moments of the old magic and I'll use these as a yardstick in the hope that the lesser tracks will grow in time.....but I'm not hopeful.
7/10 Kees de Roder 12th July 2018"Martin Phillipps says hello and the world says welcome home!"
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- Snow Bound by The Chills
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