Chapel Club - Palace

Alex Yau 13/02/2011

Rating: 4/5

There seems to be a dark cloud overcoming the bleak future of 2011. Nick Clegg has become Nick Cameron, Beady Eye's here and White Lies have solemnly retired. If anything, Ritual is perhaps the perfect propaganda soundtrack to a riotous state of fucked up governmental agendas and broken promis…oh wait. But let's be honest. Looking “dark” and “brooding” doesn't necessarily breed an inspiring essence of foreboding dread, doom and inspiration. So it takes one band to fill the shades of neglected grey with an even greater darkness. That band my friends, is Chapel Club.

Depths sails us into a wonderful land. The celestial swirls, resonating bells and warping distortions are the beginnings of Coleridge's Kubla Kahn. Five Trees is an obscured swirl of dreamy landscapes and airplane-ing guitars whilst After the Flood's Editor-esque guitar queue soars and screeches with all the furry a falling avalanche.

But what's music filled with powerful and earth shattering intentions without hyperbolic lyricisms to accompany it? Singer Lewis Bowman is a literate chap citing Hemingway, RS Thomas and Hughes as influences. It's all a palette of rich vibrancy that gets washed out with a bleak resonance "Night falls in and the skyline hardens." Colours dissolving until faces are lost among the stars, all the while lamenting on emotional decisions about life long directions (“Oh maybe I should settle down to a quiet life. Or maybe I should chance it all on a perfect night") as Bowman ponders on Oh Maybe I.

The finer moments don't come with the underbelly of the beast that is Surfacing or the adrenaline infused rush that is White Night Position. It derives from the calmer points of Palace, points reflecting that ambitious dreamscape that Chapel Club traverse so often. The Shore is a gorgeous waterfall amplified by the atmospheric and reverberant curtain drop of arcane guitars before rushing into the sonic explosion of My Bloody Valentine guitar wall. Similarly Fine Light emits the same ambience as the ambiguous tapestry of rich technicoloured harmonics and Bowman's gently flowing voice glistens with a ghostly inviting charm.

Paper Thin is a novel closing. It's a modest Jesus and Mary Chain lullaby where Chapel Club are the pallbearers of the final breaths that Palace breathes. It's a suitable send off for a rightly ambitious album that eschews itself from being labelled as a “poor version” of the bands that Chapel Club have so often, been tagged with. May they sit on their thrones and never leave.