CHAPEL CLUB – Palace (Polydor)

Chapel Club first came to my attention when their ‘Surfacing ‘ single started to get some airplay, and you just had to admire the cheek of the band for whole-heartedly ripping off ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ for the chorus, and not even trying to disguise it or to change the lyrics. It took a few listens to overcome that surprise, but then the quality of the rest of the song started to shine through, and I realised that here was a band to keep an eye on. After the short introductory instrumental of ‘Depths’, ‘Surfacing’ open the album proper, and now sounds even better than when I first heard it. Lewis Bowman’s deep vocals give the songs a gravitas that they perhaps don’t always live up to, but on songs like ‘Five Trees’ and ‘After The Flood’ it works extremely well, and the bombastic choruses are sure to go down well live. ‘White Knight Position’ cranks up the guitars for a great heavy rocker, while ‘The Shore’ gives an epic feel to one of the more mundane lyrics. A lot has been written about Chapel Club – and Bowman in particular - being pretentious, with his lyrics encompassing Greek symbolism and numerous arty references, but musically they are just a great young band, and you should just lose yourself in the music. A song like ‘Fine Light’ thunders along at a cracking pace, with some great playing from the band and Bowman singing for all he’s worth, and you can’t ask for much more than that really. Their other single ‘O Maybe I’ is up next, and this has always been a favourite of mine, with a particularly memorable tune wrapped around a classic song structure. Latest single ‘All The Eastern Girls’ is a tribute to the girls that Bowman met at St. Martins College Of Art, and is proof that he can write about everyday subjects and still produce material that suits the band perfectly. In fact ‘…Eastern Girls’ is one the better and more commercial tracks on here, and was rightly chosen to herald the release of the album. ‘Paper Thin’ pulls out all the stops to close the album with a bang. An epic production gives this song a huge feel, with drums and guitars turned up to the max and the whole thing swamped in reverb and echo. Chapel Club are certainly a band to divide opinion, with the fans loving the fact that there is an intelligent and educated band out there for them, while the detractors use exactly the same argument to explain why they are too arty for their own good. I must admit that I am in the former camp, and this album is a breath of fresh air in a music scene that seems to venerate inarticulate bores – and yes, Beady Eye and Brother I am talking to you.