Album Reviews

The Chapman Family – Burn Your Town

(PIAS/Electric Toaster) UK release date: 7 March 2011

The Chapman Family might ring a bell in certain circles. They were playing on tours organised by the NME in 2009 and it was widely expected that they’d release an album soon after. They didn’t. Instead, after a long period of thinking, they decided to scrap their original plans and instead make their second record rather than their first. Sort of.

Burn Your Town is the result of their hard work, and it is 50 minutes of ‘big’ sounding songs. Produced by Richard Jackson, whose previous credits include Future Of The Left, it’s a sudden departure from early singles such as Kids (which makes the final cut, albeit in a re-recorded form). Thankfully, it’s not all one-paced. Fast, frenetic and angry bursts of punk-ish energy is paired up with more fleshed out and epic-sounding anthems.

This is an LP born of much thought. A Certain Degree opens proceedings with murmured words from lead singer Kingsley Chapman and a heap of guitar reverb to build up the tension before tumbling straight into All Fall, which is more in line with the spirit of their original sound. From here on in it’s aggression all the way on a record that becomes more and more likeable and effective on repeated listens. Anxiety and She Didn’t Know are not as striking on initial listening. but once you’ve listened to the whole thing and played it again it all begins to make more sense in the context.

Their current template might be best described as a band aiming for big things but not wishing to lose some of the angst and power that so many artists lose grasp of when they target arenas. Something I Can’t Get It is sweeping in its adrenalin and thunders to the end with an intense clattering of cymbals and vitriolic bite in the guitars.

Not everything is a triumph though. Closing track Virgins (Reprise) feels a bit paint-by-numbers and 1,000 Lies isn’t really up to the standards of the other tracks. They could also do with adding a couple of extra dynamics – more instrumentation, for example – in order to make it more well-rounded and to fully exploit the potential of some songs. That might be something to come on future albums, but without that kind of sonic exploration the songs remain solid but not exceptional.

Burn Your Town makes a refreshing change from your average debut indie LP for a couple of primary reasons. Firstly, it’s showcasing a band who, rather than going down the easy route, actually care a lot more about first impressions than most of their contemporaries. Secondly, it hints that they could grow and mature nicely. This also had a very high possibility of failing given the glut of bands that try and fail to scale the dizzying heights of big, anthemic rock. The Chapman Family should be commended for not falling into the same trap.

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The Chapman Family – Burn Your Town
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