Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2010: Number 17

Styled as 'Dadaist pop' and coming across as only a band led by one Johannes von Weizsäcker surely can, The Chap are a singular proposition. Their primary concerns to date may be modern alternative’s most meta; on the one hand obervational, uber-arch verse-chorus oddness, on the other satire about modern musical tropes, always studded with detached one-liners in clearly enunciated, deliberately higher class accents and enveloped inside carefully multi-layered electronic new wave prog-pop with beats and sudden diversions. "Let’s party!" declares a song called Nevertheless, The Chap before the chorus ends on a rousing "and then we die".

Some of this - the appraisal compliments of Well Done You, the cut-up baiting of We'll See To Your Breakdown - may sound like a band whose alliance with the pop music artform is at ironic arms’ length, but listening closer it’s clearer as the work not of a band who only see pop as something to deconstruct as much as they clearly admire it and just want to subvert it from inside. Even when the sentiments are odd and offhand you can dance in a certain way to a lot of it. The taut bass of Gimme Legs blossoms into a cymbal decorated chorus that on some level oddly recalls Saint Etienne’s Foxbase Alpha shorn of retro-futuristic kitsch. Nevertheless, The Chap boils down some sequenced grooves to their primary state, capping a series of disconnected statements with a blank faced while euphoric choral chorus coda. We Work In Bars ("they got the funding... side projects too!") goes the whole Balearic hog with a big summer radio anthem chorus, replete with twisty acoustic guitar. There’s no point denying The Chap are majorly arch and self-reflexively knowing in their references ("kids, are you ready for the summertime love?"), but it’s equally post-modernism coming right round the back and giving itself a kick up the arse. Four albums in they still don’t really have any immediate comparable bedfellows, so peculiar and impractical is their take. Well Done Europe is a very ‘wrong’ record in many ways, but ultimately very right.


We Work In Bars

The Chap - We work in bars from Harry Rambaut on Vimeo.

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