- Audio CD (31 Jan. 2011)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Polydor / Interscope
- ASIN: B004G5YXP8
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,238 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Chapel Club may have named themselves after not one but two venues of weekend worship, but, on this evidence, we'd be inclined to suspect that their god is neither a DJ nor one of a more Cliff-friendly variety. Instead, they've chosen to prostrate themselves at the temple of pretty much the entire pantheon of bleak'n'blank boys from the entirety of the age of indie, from the Bunnymen and Joy Division right through to Glasvegas and White Lies. All well and good, you might think – or, more appropriately, all sick and tainted – but what's to stop this being a parade of numbness-by-numbers?
Quite a variety of things, as it happens. First up, there hasn't been a debut album more giggishly constructed than this since Foals' Antidotes: launching with the tantalisingly fades-in-slowly organ promises of Depths, it starts laying its stall out rather tentatively via Surfacing, which, even after all this time (its initial release was as their first single back in late 2009), is still somewhat weighed down by its over-appropriation of Dream a Little Dream of Me in spite of a certain candid cuteness, before working its way to a mid-point plateau that it stomps mercurially across thereafter. Moreover, there's enough creative shading here to ensure that moribundity never sets in – vocally, Lewis Bowman has a masterful knack of being a bruiser one bar and bruised the next, while, lyrically, there's an abject refinement to his lyrics that manifests itself in titles such as White Knight Position and O Maybe I and ruminations on love and loss that tower over mere landfill cliché.
Musically, too, when they deign to stretch out and wait, to borrow a phrase from one of their most frequent touchstones, they're capable of a preciously pretty haziness that sparkles darkly and startles artfully. Fine Light is a particularly pronounced example of this, all hushed guitar cascades, fracturing-into-focus shoegazing and sighs-as-instruments drawing the listener swooningly in before abruptly changing pace for a breakneck display of soaring skew-pop. Paper Thin, their one actual musing on religion proper, reclines into a hymnal minimalism amid twangs that seem to summon up a Hawley-ian heartbreak, and last year's standout single The Shore has lost none of its pathos and potency in the meantime, its slow sculpting and funereally reverent drumming chiming against a blanket of resigned Cocteau Twins reverb and some thoroughly luminous bile to produce effortlessly epic results.
Alright, so they might be inserting themselves into a canon known for its critical consensus, but Palace is still a vital addition to the oeuvre, and richly deserving of the inevitable praise.
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Top customer reviews
Chapel Club are a London-based band who kick up a cracking good row
on their debut album 'Palaces'. There's a lot of the right kind of
energy here. The spirit of the eighties seems to fit them well.
The line-up comprises : Lewis Bowman, vocals; Michael Hibbert and
Alex Parry, guitars; Liam Arklie, bass and Rich Mitchell, drums.
They have a big fat sound which leans towards the darker side of
the road. Mr Bowman's voice is highly expressive and his lyrics are
eloquent. The overall tone of the album is serious and powerful.
Following a brief ambient introduction we are thrown full-tilt into
the very splendid 'Surfacing', a song with guts and gravitas which,
nonetheless, manages to get our toes tapping. Mr Mitchell, in particular,
makes his presence felt admirably. They seem to have borrowed a few
words from the 1930's composition 'Dream A Little Dream Of Me' for the
chorus which sits curiously well amid the compelling bluster of the whole.
The twisted guitar lines of 'Five Trees' frame an arrangement which hints at
Heroes-era Bowie. Mr Bowman's deadpan delivery makes it his own however.
Elsewhere I was particularly taken with 'The Shore' (seagulls included);
the reverb-soaked sonic landscape is full of atmospheric light and shade
and 'Blind', which sports a good tune and an especially strong refrain. For
my money, however, the nuanced Spector-ish strains of final track 'Paper
Thin' can justifiably stake a claim as being the best number in the bunch.
It brings the album to a rousing conclusion and leaves us wanting more.
I dare say the music would also stand up well to scrutiny in a live context.
Vocally this sounds like Ian McCulloch (e.g. Five Trees and the sublime White Night Position which sounds like it should be on an updated Crocodiles LP and would be the BEST song on there) and Morrissey (e.g. Fine Light and Paper Thin) but with far more imaginative/distinctive music than either Echo & the Bunnymen or Morrissey have managed in the past two decades - music which matters and isn't mainly a backing for the vocals.
Anyone who likes The Editors, White Lies or Ride should also like these. Give them a go!
My highlights are Surfacing, Five Trees, White Knight Position, Blind and All the Eastern Girls. Five great songs on one album is no mean feat.
Given a few listens you soon realise Chapel Club have their own identity and, despite the Joy Division and Wire references bestowed upon them, this band are offering something more.
You can be doing your CD collection a handy favour buy buying this album.