For thecover art to their first album, the members of Chapel Club wear the kind of depressed expressions first witnessed on Modern English’s ‘Mesh And Lace’ album. In keeping with the theme, the group play the kind of music which has roots in post-punk music but bring it up to date with excessive use of the FX pedal.
‘Surfacing’ is our first chance to hear the Chapel Club signature sound. There’s undoubtedly echoes of Interpol and Editor’s epic, widescreen rock but they also have an arresting frontman in the shape of Lewis Bowman, whose poetic lyrics are matched by an accent-less, Ian Curtis-like voice. He’s accompanied by duelling guitars which occasionally threaten to take over and turn the record in to a My Bloody Valentine tribute.
In the realms of indie rock, ‘Surfacing’ and ‘Five Trees’ could be considered “anthems” . Latest single ‘Blind’ disappoints with the kind of riffing which Manic Street Preachers considered passé fifteen years ago. Yet two other songs offer something noticeably different but equally memorable. ‘O Maybe I’ is wordy and literate like Morrissey but also features one of the year’s most original choruses in which Bowman sweeps in between guitars that for once seem to be intertwined beautifully. Then there’s ‘The Shore’, chiefly noticeable for capturing a rare blissful moment amongst the visceral thrills. A special mention too for final track ‘Paper Thin’, which is the point at which Richard Hawley and original ‘gazers Chapterhouse seem to team up.
Even more interestingly, the Deluxe edition includes the ‘Wintering EP’, where the group seem to be parading a fascinating mix of influences. ‘Roads’ possesses the aura of a Spaghetti Western and ‘Telluride’ recalls the ghostly rock of Avrocar. The final two tracks (‘Bodies’, ‘Widows’) are even better; each favouring the slower pace and providing the perfect showcase for Bowman’s God-like tones.
Although ‘Palace’ tries a bit too hard to be a great album at times, Bowman provides the class which holds the operation together. One would imagine that toning down the guitar histrionics to add the kind of introspection evidenced on the EP would be the best way forward for the group.
Editors, Interpol, Echo And The Bunnymen, Modern English, Richard Hawley