Chapel Club ? Palace (Loog/Polydor) 31/01/2011

February 1, 2011 by  

chapel club - palace artwork

Flashback to this time last year and big things were expected of this London based 5 piece. Chapel Club were lauded by critics as the next major British Indie rock band, due to their alternative song structures and romantic and poetic lyrics.

Unlike their big league contemporaries, Editors, White Lies et al, they were seen to be dispensing with the popular practise of drowning songs in heavy production and emotive vocals, leaving no space in which to actually connect. Instead, they opted to build layers of guitar reverb with vocals and synths adding substance to their epics, thereby encompassing the listener into a wall of sound akin to My Bloody Valentine.

Yet, with so much hype surrounding the band, on this album it could go both ways; either a complete travesty or a major achievement justifying that early critical acclaim.

Their debut seems to do neither; it stays firmly in the middle due to the fact that they have the potential to be huge, but the furore surrounding them has meant they have been overcome by their own self importance. It?s not the shimmering epics that are the issue, but the lyrics, which rather than being poetic are haphazard and meaningless at times. Case in point is track 5, ?White Knight Position?, which includes the lines ?Inside airtight, in for a bumpy ride ?, could be an advert for a new ride in Alton Towers. This seems to be a running theme throughout the album; where something that could be poetic and profound ends up being forgettable.

This is a shame because within this mixed bag of tracks you have three absolute corkers in the shape of ?Five Trees?, with its swirling atmospheric guitars and powerful vocal refrain ?despite the dust in my heart, dust in my veins?, the aural magnificence of ?The Shore? and the widescreen epic ?All the Eastern Girls – all of which showcase the band at their absolute best.

Recent single, ?Surfacing?, starts off well enough with its slow build up and striking vocals over the top, which give it a stirring nostalgic feel, but this good work is rendered meaningless when the chorus kicks in with borrowed lyrics from a Mamas and Papas classic ?Stars shining bright above you?, which rather than being an interesting aspect of the song structure, seems to be a complete oversight on the band?s part.

The low key majesty of ?Blind? and the yearning ?Oh Maybe I? almost reach the heights of the former tracks, but the rest of the album doesn?t really have the same affect. It seems like Chapel Club are undeniably talented and adept at creating interesting tapestries of sound, yet they fall short of greatness due to the obtuseness of their lyrics. This ultimately makes ?Palace? a frustrating listen and a missed opportunity.