Release Date: Jan 31, 2011
Record label: A&M
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Since 2009 Chapel Club have been quietly and diligently building a devout following, in the process releasing a string of four strong singles and a free download in the lead-up to this their debut album, Palace. They have had an exceptional record over the past year, indeed five of the tracks that feature on this LP have gained the honour of being Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record in the World Today’ as well a various other plaudits from the likes of Xfm and the NME. All very impressive but it begs a question: on an album of 10 full tracks, you’ve heard and probably paid for half of them, so what is left and is it worth your money? The simple answer is a very qualified yes – although this album is anything but black and white.
If I were a girlfriend of Chapel Club, right about now I’d be nervous. Palace, the London-based quintet’ s debut offering, is probably best described as a love story. Just don’t go expecting a Love Actually-style tale where all’s well that ends well means Hugh Grant gets to snog Tiffany off EastEnders. It is not that sort of love story.
Great things are expected of Chapel Club, and it's easy to hear why. The epic Surfacing adapts the lyrics to 1930s standard Dream a Little Dream of Me (a 60s hit for the Mamas and the Papas) within walls of post-punk guitar. Another single, All the Eastern Girls, showcases singer Lewis Bowman's eerie ability to sound exactly like Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen.
Back in NME days of yore, there was a regular feature called Portrait Of The Artist As A Consumer where bands talked about things that tickled their cerebral fancy. Perhaps you can tell from its James Joyce-indebted title that it was quite the platform for intellectual cock-waggling. Nick Cave would tip Bergerac (the 17th century French dramatist, not the TV crime series); Dadaism, Tarkovsky and Nietzsche were namedropped with great gusto.Nothing was deemed wrong then with trying to better oneself through voracious consumption of art, but then somewhere, perhaps with the arrival of [a]Oasis[/a], being a clever dick became something to hide.
A vital addition to the bleak-indie oeuvre. Iain Moffatt 2011 Chapel Club may have named themselves after not one but two venues of weekend worship, but, on this evidence, we'd be inclined to suspect that their god is neither a DJ nor one of a more Cliff-friendly variety. Instead, they've chosen to prostrate themselves at the temple of pretty much the entire pantheon of bleak'n'blank boys from the entirety of the age of indie, from the Bunnymen and Joy Division right through to Glasvegas and White Lies.