Chin Up Chin Up

We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers (Flameshovel Records)

Last Valentine's Day, Chicago band Chin Up Chin Up became famous for the wrong reason. Bass player Chris Saathoff was killed when a speeding car hit him crossing the street on his way home from the Empty Bottle. But the John Congleton-produced We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers isn't the band's final--and best--moment. It was recorded in July and shows a band refocused. Chin Up Chin Up takes the complicated guitar rock of bands such as Braid, adds guitar-based dance rhythms (think the Rapture) and layers it with static, samples and breathless, whispered, moany vocals reminiscent of Jarvis Cocker. But Chin Up Chin Up is more than a sum of previous ideas. It's melodic but complex, voices overlapping each other, blending with sounds of xylophone, theremin, keyboards and sirens, and highlighting the ever-present math-rock-like guitars. Time signatures and styles change abruptly within songs, making tracks seem almost like medleys: "Collide the Tide" begins with crunchy staccato guitars, then kamikaze keyboards come in, and the vocals unite the two warring instruments in a third section. Somehow, throughout We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers, Chin Up Chin Up makes this cacophony into brilliant little symphonies.

 
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