Release Date: Mar 3, 2015
Record label: PIAS
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Folk
Coming less than a year after Champs’s debut Down Like Gold, there is no whiff of “difficult second album” syndrome to Vamala. The Isle of Wight duo have some effective pop tricks up their sleeve: lead single Desire dispenses with an instrumental introduction, beginning with vocals instead (“It starts with explosions … ”); one instrumental passage nods to Bronski Beat’s synthpop fave Smalltown Boy; and their repetition of the word “echo” is so ludicrously effective that you wonder why no one’s done it before. The production, by Boe Weaver, is sparse on songs such as Running and the title track, which carry their wintry sadness with the lightness of Hot Chip, while a picked acoustic guitar adorns Forever Be Upstanding at the Door and Roll Me Out.
The sophomore album from Isle of Wight sibling duo Champs, 2015's Vamala beautifully showcases the group's thoughtful, melodic mix of folk and indie pop. Once again relying on the songwriting talents of brothers Michael and David Champion, Vamala finds Champs picking up the musical threads begun with their 2014 debut, Down Like Gold. As with that album, Vamala is full of the brothers' harmony-driven compositions, which bring to mind the literate '60s acoustic style of Simon & Garfunkel ("Roll Me Out"), as well as soulful, sophisti-folk '80s groups like the Beautiful South ("3,000 Miles").