“Yah…they herald a new wave of new wave, an electro-pop glam-rock indie band with the merest hint of stripped down trance…” or something like that. Chikinki have blazed a hyphen strewn trail of destruction the land over as journalists struggle to pigeonhole their sound.
As they continue to fumble over their computer keyboards, this Bristol formed five-piece, continue to make music that could only really be described as one thing – a little bit different. In the words of Rupert Browne (lead singer): “Let’s play synths like guitars! And let’s start trying to make music that doesn’t sound like anything else!”
Beginning with Assassinator 13, a clipped, compressed electric guitar pounds a mid range rhythm, while Browne slurs his vocals in a charmingly relaxed style – it is all very pleasant. The synths start up, and at times the ‘bleep bloop, bleep bloop’ cycle endears itself to the tune, at others it is incongruous and it sounds like someone is playing Space Invaders in the next room. It’s weird, but very good in parts, an intriguing and ear-catching opener.
The synth makes appearances on most tracks, in varying qualities and quantities. Where it is used selectively, on Drink for example, it really contributes to the melody – and that track becomes one of the better on the album as a result. In other places, the electronica is a little overbearing. All Eyes is a harrowingly artificial for those of us who like our music to be organic, warm and human: it’s sanitised, clinical and oh so horribly synthetic. Hate TV, a murkily romantic song about a girl who is afraid of technology, is another that falls victim to Chikinki’s over-reliance on the synth.
There are two real stand-out tracks to Lick Your Ticket. One is the most recent single, Ether Radio. Synths fizz, drums pose a tidy little beat, Cure-like vocals and a jaunty guitar part, and you’ll find it hard to stop nodding along. The second is Bombs, a Doves-esque slice of delicate melancholia that drifts by most eerily. Don’t even try to do anything constructive when this starts, you just have to sit back and bathe in it – gorgeous.
With the exception of Like It Or Leave It, with its drum and bass pulse and intermittent, stuttering vocals (and the not dissimilar following track, Time), it’s difficult to see much of this album getting played in a club (Chikinki describe this as their “going out album”) – it’s a little too subdued for that.
Chikinki’s musical crucible is just too full. They seem to do most styles fairly well and taken on their own, most of the tracks on Lick Your Ticket are gratifying to listen to. Unfortunately, the album is a irksomely incoherent – its elements just cross the line from nicely varied into irritatingly disparate.
To get the most out of this album you’ll have to make good use of the skip track button in order to avoid the bludgeoning synth and seek out the better songs – but when it is good, I must say that it is very good. Chikinki are different to most acts around (although they are not utterly groundbreaking), the flashes of brilliance on this album lead me to believe that if they can achieve a little more coherence to their future works they will be one to look out for.