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Literature: Chorus

Literature, chorus, album review Literature — Chorus


Release Date: Aug. 19
Our Rating: 5/5
Spec Recs: “English Soft Hearts,” “Chime Hours,” “Jimmy”
In one word: Introspective


Philadelphia’s Literature features Kevin Attics, Nathaniel Cardaci, Chris Schackerman, and Seth Whaland. Attics, who’d written for numerous music trades as a teen, met Cardaci and Whaland at the house venue they both operated in Austin, Texas. Cardaci and Whaland each ran small imprint labels and eventually the trio decided to form a band. Upon moving to Philadelphia, the group befriended Schackerman who also joined.

Autumn of 2013 saw the band begin work on its second album, Chorus, with lauded engineer Gary Olson (whose body of work includes records by Crystal Stilts, Mad Scene and The Beets) at his Marlborough Farms studio in Brooklyn, N.Y.. As a beautiful autumn turned into one of the harshest winters in recent memory, Olson and the band began stretching out. They enhanced the album with studio techniques from the late ’60s, such as true-tape flanging, sending vocals through Leslie speaker cabinets. It’s the same analog style of automatic double-tracking created at Abbey Road Studios. Think Alvvays, The Smiths, Vampire Weekend, Wild Nothing, and Smith Westerns all piled into one album.

The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything” starts with a “woo!” and a catchy groove. The echoey vocal reverb lushes over sounds of a punchy beat and orchestrated elegance in the guitars and keys. This song is Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In an Aeroplane Over the Sea” meets surf rock and reverberated underground pop. The Smiths meets Wild Nothing in “The English Soft Hearts.” Dreamy guitars weave through the melodies of the vocals. The bridge digs a deep hole into the abyss of luscious guitar tone and string synths. This song can easily be used in a summery scene of a film with friends driving along the coast, or huddled around a campfire on the beach. Too bad summer is practically over, because this could have easily been a summer anthem.

Court Day” is beat-driven and fast, much like the anticipation of nerves when facing a court date. The song continues in traditional lush, wave-like fashion, with a pulsating drum beat that carries the song through, until it drops in the chorus to promote the vocals better. The song ends abruptly with a guitar unplugging and the amp responding with a glitch, which is almost to say “wake up!” from your dreamy slumber. The chorus in “New Jacket” dabbles with interesting chord progressions. The band dares to step outside of its comfort zone and experiment with diminished chords… and it works! The vocals drop out at 1:49, and from there the song takes off on an instrumental journey through hoops and jumps, with bits of “ba-ba-da” in the vocals. The latter half of the song is progressive and edgy and pushes the boundaries of dreamwave to its extreme. It’s beautiful.

The fade into “Chime Hours” in the beginning leads me into a Cure-esque fantasy. The chord structure in this song is magnetic, probably one of my favorite combinations of chord progressions. The piano “chime” fits the title perfectly as it punches with the on-beats. The vocals in the second chorus sound like they’re underwater, and the last ten seconds of the song bring me back to my Emby Alexander days, as the melody and chord structure is exactly the same as the interlude in “Lower Come Closer” (is it still called that?), which immediately caught my attention.

Chorus” races through the tune at full speed with elegant guitar melodies that allow you to imagine his fingers flawlessly sweeping the strings of his guitar. The bridge is what really attracts me – the drums add an effect that gives it more splash and the guitars pulsate and puncture with each note. The song ends abruptly after each section builds up again.

Jimmy” is one of the more “heavy” songs on the album, the drums march through the introduction until a dark harmonious couple of voices enter the song and lift you into a spiral of dream pop. “Jimmy” is probably one of my favorite songs on the album because it’s so driven and forward moving. The second half of the song is a crescendo toward a bold instrumental jam session that loops and twists, and strikes a strong chord (or two, or three) until it softly lands you on your feet at the end.

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