Album Reviews

Literature – Chorus

(Slumberland) UK release date: 18 August 2014

Literature - Chorus Philadelphia based foursome Literature have returned after the success of their debut album, 2012’s Arab Spring, with a record that should be a indie pop stomper, but falls short of the mark. With moments of exciting indie pop fun, it frequently nods its head to guitar bands of the past. However, in its emulation of what has come before, it does not push the style forward and occasionally rests on its laurels.

Opening with the fun indie-bopper The Girl, The Gold Watch, And Everything, with its electric ‘ba-da-das’, it is pure fun down to its core with a guitar riff that hits off the walls like a bouncing ball. It is a carefully structured two minutes of good-time indie guitar pop. But as the album progresses, it starts to take a different turn. The English Soft Hands is the first track to make a concrete nod to the past, with its Johnny Marr-style guitar riffs seeming to use the great man’s own FX pedals. It falls a bit flat of the bouncing promise of earlier.

Blasé takes this further, and comes across as attempt to become a The Smiths tribute band. Although lyrically nothing like Morrissey, the guitar parts just echo so much of Mr Marr’s style. They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but here it frequently feels that this imitation has been taken too far. It dates the sound of the album in ways that it perhaps never meant to.

It’s when the band return to the bouncing indie-pop explosions, with Tie-Dye (Your Life) and Court Date, that things get exciting and interesting again. With their crafted pop structures, whimsical melodies and pounding drums that drive the tempo along, these tracks bring the listener back out of the past, and into the here and now. The stand out track is surely Chime Hours, and although it still sounds like something from a British ’80s guitar band, it is beautifully balanced between Kevin Attic’s subtle but striking vocals that swirl above the chiming keyboards, dreamlike guitars and hypnotic drums. The effect is simply stunning and it stands tall above the rest of the album.

The central part of this collection is where the substantial work lies, with the beginning and end flailing slightly in comparison. As such it does not feel like a consistent body of songs, with much of it sounding like the output of so many other guitar bands. It’s sad that tracks like Jimmy and Dance Shoes are good but just don’t capture the imagination in the way that you would love them to. It’s hard to know what’s missing though; occasionally there are glimmers of surprise and hope, but it seems to yearn to sound like something different to what it really is.

All in all, the album feels like a light whippy mousse – sweet to the taste, but when you’re finished with it, you’ll still feel unfulfilled and a bit hungry. What the album does do, however, is point towards a future for the band. While it feels like a transition album, as many second albums are, this is a band who are busily paving a direction for their future. As such, they’ve yet to reach their destination.

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