Thursday 22 February 2018

Music: Modern Rituals by Chief * *

John Meagher

John Meagher

Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand helped give Domino global chart success, and the smart money is on these Californians to swell the coffers of the great indie label yet further.

On the face of it, they tick all the boxes to make their music appeal to the widest possible audience.

Like Snow Patrol's stadium-filling balladry? Check. How about Coldplay's innate way with anthems? Check. Or how about a West Coast sound that runs the gamut from Neil Young to Fleet Foxes? Check.

So why does Modern Rituals make one think of that quaint adage, fur coat and no knickers?

They certainly know their way around a catchy tune; there are more melodies here than on many bands' entire output, and the support slot with U2 is surely theirs for the taking, yet very few of these songs have adhesive power. They're big, but not bright; brash, not bold.

And the spectre of Richard Ashcroft looms large too, and that is rarely a good thing. Breaking Walls sounds like something The Verve would have encountered -- written for the masses, you'll struggle to find its beating heart.

And that's the problem with so many of the songs here -- scratch below the surface and there's very little that truly hits home.

It's only when the band display alt-country leanings that Modern Rituals pulls the listener in -- In the Valley sounds like a lost American folk classic and stands head and shoulders above its neighbours.

Chief bring their big sound to Dublin's Academy 2 on September 1.

Burn it: In the Valley

Irish Independent

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