At only 19 years of age (an age where I had barely learnt to speak) Baltimore resident Julien Chang is readying his debut. Chang (pronounced Chong just so you don't make an idiot of yourself) makes infectious electronic pop with nods to the jazz funk runs of the 70s and 80s. Sorta Toro Y Moi meets George Benson I suppose. Smooth yacht-ish rock that should be played all day long, all night strong.
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Oh my. Julien Chang’s debut LP opens mightily impressive-like, with a guitar that reminds me of something or other by someone, it drives me mad in fact -- until, that is, it strikes me: Spain! For clarification that’d be Spain as in the country, not the band. Then it goes deliciously psych with a nice fuzzy guitar and then Chang’s vocal makes its first appearance, and it’s s-moo-ooo-th. With an extra ‘ooo’. Hey, you know what, it’s a smooth day here at NR (and that’s a rarer occasion than you might think!)
The record progresses in a happily chillwave manner, pop hooks in place and nice jazzy flourishes on piano, electronic keys and bass. ‘Of The Past’ is a gorgeous slice of pop / jazz-funk / yachty-rock which harkens back to the golden era (late 70s, early 80s)... you know the deal. Shades of Toro Y Moi, yes, but also Chang reminds me both stylistically and vocally of Kevin Parker.
There’s that Tame Impala quality here (particularly on ‘Moving Parts’ and 'Memory Loss') matched by a general air of confidence and extreme competence in production. Lovely, trebly, wah-wah guitar, and I really like Chang’s voice. It’s those guitar melodies that make it though, so rich, lush, lustrous in textural detail. There’s even a brief appearance or two of a tenor sax and some excellent 80s keyboard action. Somewhere between Steely Dan, George Benson and Tame Impala there’s Julien Chang. And he’s only 19 years of age. Ridiculous.
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