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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