We Are Nobody
The Chap are nuts, right? They’re so weird that even guys who are pretty weird themselves think the Chap are weird. They don’t look like they play in a band! Weird. They’re almost in their 40s! Weird.
Their music is a hectic hybrid of almost everything that ever happened in modern western society, which means it’s really poppy but also quite screechy and detached and has really weird lyrics about cloning oneself and getting positive feedback from one’s boss. Weird.
But after almost ten years of weirding everybody out over the course of hundreds of intense live shows, four albums and even a best of Compilation, the Chap have finally let their sensitive side get the better of them, resulting in their distinctly melancholy fifth album. Written, recorded and produced by the band in London and Berlin over the first half of 2011, “We Are nobody“ is the most unified sounding Chap album to date. It contains 11 beautiful statements of loss, dislocation, nostalgia and defeat, mostly in a traditional pop song format and embedded in a surprisingly soothing and restrained sonic environment. I could go on. it’s all infectious, blistering pop music, but all the while something is deliciously wrong here. Another most intriguing and exciting collection of outsider pop from one of the UK’s most original bands.
In typical Chap manner, everything here is invested with instantly memorable melodies and several clear but disparate references whilst sounding like no other band has ever sounded. Opening song “Rhythm King“, over a distant reminder of a motown groove, asks of its elusive title character to “show me the way out of the darkness and remind me where my heart is“ while the album’s trademark super high-pitched guitars and super low bass rumble in a strange flow of harmonies.
“What did we do“ is the closest the Chap have ever gotten to a commercial radio single; while a pulsating synth bassline is complemented by ukuleles and more trademark high guitars, the song documents an onset of bittersweet memories triggered by a visit to an old haunt.
Elsewhere, on title track “We Are nobody”, the Chap magically combine a Tears For Fears homage of sorts with a surreal, frightening and deadpan tale of dissolving identities and mass migration.
“Look at the girl“ is the first song Panos and Johannes ever wrote together, shortly after meeting at University in 1997. Back then the original lyrics to the song were written by friend Geoff Lucas and have now been augmented by the Chap for the album version: as a sparse funk riff explodes into deft open harmonies, the narrator reflects on seeing a beautiful girl cycle by and eventually hints at a tragic incident…
The Chap - We Are Nobody
The Chap are weird, right? So, making a serious pop record, is that going to work? You bet it is. For the human experience is a very weird thing and long ago the Chap, with their extraodinary musical versatility and deadpan delivery, made it their mission to condense that weirdness into breathtaking music. Be it in a hyperactive, humorous way or, as beautifully done here, a melancholy, introspective way.