Release Date: Oct 10, 2006
Record label: Suicide Squeeze
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Although the comparatively straightforward guitar pop of the Chills, the Clean and the Bats is what broke through to the biggest American college radio audience, a trawl through the back catalog of the great New Zealand indie Flying Nun Records reveals a ton of smaller bands working in considerably different musical circumstances. The comparison comes up because the second album by American indie rockers Chin Up Chin Up shares most of its musical DNA with folks like the Tall Dwarfs, Look Blue Go Purple and the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, even if these Chicago-based youngsters have probably never heard of those groups. A considerably more pop-oriented album than the band's quirky debut, This Harness Can't Ride Anything has a thin, trebly sound that emphasizes the dry, scratchy guitars and rickety, Moe Tucker-style drums underneath Jeremy Bolen's occasionally yelpy vocals, but all of those potentially off-putting elements are put in service of a newfound interest in traditional pop-song structures.
One wants to come to Chin Up Chin Up as an editor rather than as a listener. The things that make them a provocatively frustrating band and not a great one are ineffable, but decidedly superficial. At heart there is something very right about the 10 songs on This Harness Can't Ride Anything, as there was with the 10 on 2004's better We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers, but a layer or two of unneeded complexity always intervenes, distracts, obscures.