Album Reviews

Chungking – The Hungry Years

(Gut) UK release date: 25 October 2004


With the current success of bands like Goldfrapp and Zero 7, the synth-pop sound seems to be coming back into popularity, after years of being exiled as the bastard son of big haired ’80s music.

Taking full advantage of this current trend is Chungking, a retro-synth-soul trio (bit of a mouthful). The Hungry Years, Chungking’s second outing after 2003’s We Travel Fast sees the group become more comfortable in their sound and style, all with the hope that they can break into the mainstream.

From the stylish and old fashioned packaging you can instantly see where this CD is going to try and take you. The stars, unicorns and swirls paint an extremely hippy-esque picture, and the music doesn’t fall far short of your assumption.

The opening track Come With Me is a mellow introduction, with soft and almost soothing vocals from lead singer Jessie Banks, accompanied by delicate synth and quiet piano. Nothing to really catch your attention, but easy to listen to and quite foretelling of what’s in store. Making Music speeds the album up a little and moves on from the fashioned sound of the last song, giving it a more indie-style beat but maintaining a strong soul hook.

Lyrically, The Hunger Years is a bit hard to swallow. With track titles like World of a Thousand Suns I’m sure you can see my point. Generally the depth of the lyrics go no further than your average chart song, and sometimes veer into cheesy or clich�d territory. This makes the whole experience a little bit shallow; you’re not going to be listening out for insightful or witty lyrics, and so the only positives regarding the album are aesthetic ones.

Even with its acid-trip title however, World of a Thousand Suns is actually an enjoyable sounding song. The lyrical mishit is well countered by the upbeat production, especially on the chorus. I would have to say that this is one of the better songs on the whole CD, along with the acoustic closing track Cold Outside, which rounds off the album quite nicely.

Altogether The Hungry Years is quite hit and miss. Some of the songs are musically pretty but none of them really hit the spot or stand out to any degree. Probably best enjoyed as some quiet background music when you’re trying to chill out but I’d be hard pushed to sit down and listen to it for anything more than two or three minutes, the whole thing really lacks the urgency Goldfrapp are loved for. Basically it just isn’t the kind of album that requires or deserves your undivided attention.


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More on Chungking
Chungking – Defender
Chungking – Stay Up Forever
Chungking – The Hungry Years
Chungking – We Travel Fast