Thursday 25 October 2012

Chad Valley - Young Hunger

Fans concerned about the inclusion of multiple guest appearances on Chad Valley's debut album can put aside their fears.  Far from distilling Hugo Manuel's sound, they only add to its electro-pop appeal.

Twin Shadow features on opener I Owe You This, his widescreen 80s music a perfect fit for Chad Valley; the inclusion of T.E.E.D on My Life Is Complete provides all the skittering beats and laconic vocals you could expect; and the lush production of closer Manimals is pure Active Child.  The addition of these indie artists may be a cheap way of ensuring a wider audience, but they certainly compliment Chad Valley's core sound.

And that core sound is as instantly feelgood as ever.  Mixing falsetto vocals, warm synth washes and laidback Balearic beats, 'Young Hunger' is a pure distillation of summer - first single Fall 4 U being a prime example.  At times it verges on bubblegum, as with the autotuned My Girl, the lyrics "if you wanna be my girl, then you gotta get with my friends" a less than subtle nod to the Spice Girls.  Yet this only underlines the playful, youthful vibrancy of the album, surely living up to its name.  My Girl is immediately contrasted with 80s smooth jam Evening Surrender that somehow manages to make panpipes sexy, the chorus emerging in a breathless sigh.  The jerky beat of Fathering Mothering is another psychedelic highlight amongst the swooning electronic heat-haze.

'Young Hunger' positively drips with 80s influences.  Vocally, Manuel is like the lovechild of Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet), Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith (Tears For Fears), with plenty of falsetto for good measure.  New wave, electro and Latino pop (Paula Abdul and Gloria Estefan especially) are all brought up to date with slick, modern production similar to contemporaries Passion Pit, M83, and Owl City amongst others.  This is all very on-trend at the moment, but Chad Valley can stand proud beside them.  Once the shimmering production melts in your ears it's hard to complain.

The album does begin to lose some of its lustre after repeated listening.  It sags a little around the middle and the lyrics are as youthfully shallow as the production is vibrant.  But with 'Young Hunger' Chad Valley has provided a blissfully chilled out summer oasis amongst the rain, wind and grey skies of the coming months - the perfect antidote to any winter blues.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Fall 4 U
* Evening Surrender
* Fathering Mothering

Listen: 'Young Hunger' is released on October 30th.