I first heard of Chad Valley about a month or so ago. When I heard the fifth track on here “Fast Challenges” I felt pretty excited. Here was an artist going back to the proud tradition of trance pop from the early 90s. Unlike some others working in the same sound, he deftly avoided any trace of irony. No, his work sounded fairly genuine, heartfelt even.
“Reach Lines” is truly great. The sound is pristine. I’m a little blown away. I mean, here we have all these artists obsessing about creating a lo-fi sound to impress others. Listening to it I’m reminded of a sweet Washed Out track. Vocals come from far away. Just for those not convinced, they bring out the vocoder. Oh this makes me happy.
With the full album, I’m reminded a bit more of the nostalgic vibes everyone’s been surfing on lately. Chad Valley’s work succeeds with the sheer smoothness of delivery. All those vocals make up most of the sound, taking up huge amounts of space. Vocals are more of an instrument than mere backup. This isn’t a bad thing; countless artists (Cocteau Twins) have convinced me of the importance on focusing of the texture of the sound. Besides, this is in English unlike the Twins’ made-up language.
Actually, most of the album explores the 80s more than that teaser “Fast Challenges” hinted. I’m not bothered by this fact. You’ll probably politely hum along with most of this album. The warmth it contains makes it pretty hard to dislike. Even the melodies are infectious.
Of course, there are a lot of bands using a similar sound. Immediately the group “Games” comes to mind. Like Games, it stays true to a pop format, with all seven of these songs staying within five minutes or less. Similar to Games, it explores the myriad percussion and synthesizer pads. But the main difference is the more human approach to pop. The experimental impulse of the sound is kept in check by the human vocals. It’s a great summer album. Shame he isn’t coming to the US.