Chancellorpink - Life Like Sad Music

TC 27/02/2009

Rating: 3/5

Chancellorpink is a one man band; an attorney from Pittsburgh by the name of Ray McLaughlin to be precise. He writes the songs, plays all the instruments, produces the whole thing, then does the marketing too - I bet his wife has to do the washing up though! Just to emphasise his vigilance, this is his fourth album in as many years; a busy man indeed.

The overall feel of this collection is somewhat dreamy and laid back but with an endearing appeal to it. With a pained vocal style, McLaughlin writes of love lost with a carefree sense of abandonment. Many of the songs feel as though they were initially written as poetry and that does give them an uneasy flow at times. Musically, he is obviously a man of competence and the simple arrangements he writes are executed with comfortable ease, although you find yourself desperate for a bit more 'ummph' occasionally.

Opening song “Bleed The Enemy” is a very positive start and, along with “Third Time, No Charm” are instrumentally the better outings here. But it's within his words that he exudes the most accomplishment, with gems like 'there was a sense of failure, there was a bitch who broke your heart. Every new death took a bit of your breath and the bastards it left took your dreams apart' from “There Was Reality”. Top tune for me is 'Tears At The Cemetery”, a deep yet airy sounding piece where he croons that 'You were too light to bury, we prayed tears at the cemetery'.

Comparisons have already been drawn with David Bowie and certainly the vocal delivery does contain some similarities, particularly on McLaughlin's personal favourite “Black Light Blinks”; a song that veers from moody to melodrama. I would also draw parallels with Nick Cave and even Tom Waits at times, mainly because the overall feeling oozes an air of poignant rejection.

One can't help but think there could be more musical depth had there been other musicians involved, but this still serves as a fitting showcase of a man and his art and it's highly commendable for that. It's songs from the basement for those with a desire for sorrowful compatriotism, so if that suits your bill, give it a try (you can hear all the tracks on