The Chills – Snow Bound (Album Review)

The Chills – Snow Bound (Album Review)

Formed in 1980, in Dunedin, New Zealand, The Chills was the creation of Singer-Songwriter Martin Phillipps, aided by a revolving door of musicians who came and went during the band’s entire career.

The struggles that Phillipps and his band faced took them seven years before they were able to release their debut full-length, 1987’s Brave Words. The follow-up, Submarine Bells, docked in 1990. Two more albums were unleashed—1992’s Soft Bomb and 1996’s Sunburnt—and then the band’s activities became sporadic again. It took nineteen years before The Chills were able to release a new album, 2015’s Silver Bullets. And obviously making up for the lost time, here they are again, with another effort.

Dropped on Friday, September 14, 2018, on Fire Records, The Chills’ sixth album opens with the cool, chilly, and slight Shoegaze swagger of “Bad Sugar,” immediately breezing off the trademark sonic style of the New Zealand-hailing band.

The subtly syncopated “Time to Atone” then follows with its syrupy synth drenches and tuneful melodies, recalling similar tendencies by the likes of The Charlatans (“Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over”), The Candyskins (“Feed It”), and  The Milltown Brothers (It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”). The pace shifts to a higher gear and the angularity to a coarser fuzz as “The Greatest Guide” takes the listener to a more upbeat plane of appreciation.

The proper stompers “Scarred” and “Complex” then uplifts the spirit of the listener and prompts him to head-sway mode, only to relax him again with the piano-led “Deep Belief,” whose lyrics complements the rustic and folky feel of the music itself. The big sound of “Lord of All I Survey” conjures an image of Sisyphus pushing a mound of snow up a pristine, white-capped hill—inspired, pastoral, and soulful. The title-track then gallops like travelling footsteps on a snowy mountain—engaging, sweet, and memorable—reminding the listener why The Chills are one of New Zealand’s finest Indie Pop outfits.

The penultimate track, “Easy Peazy,” simply continues the album’s cheery yet subtly intimate vibes. Finally, The Chills—Martin Phillipps (vocals, guitar), James Dickinson (bass), Todd Knudson (drums), Erica Scally (keyboards), and Oli Wilson (keyboards)—concludes their snow-bound journey with the upbeat and positive predisposition of “In Harmony,” saving the best track for last!

The Chills might have experienced a lull moment in the late ’90s through early noughties; but since their coming out in 2015 from hibernation, the band seems to have regained their mojo. Snow Bound is definitely a proof that Phillipps with his current comrades is still up and running, armed with silver bullets and fresh yet familiar tracks that are destined to become heavenly Pop hits in the foreseeable future. CrypticRock gives Snow Bound 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Snow Bound:
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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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