The Chapman Family - Burn Your Town

by Steve Rhodes Rating:7 Release Date:2011-03-07

In the spirit of The Ramones, Stockton-based four-piece The Chapman Family have adopted a family name for each member. However, this is where the similarities end. Bubblegum pop is not their forte and judging by the apt title of their debut, Burn Your Town, and the dark tones The Chapman Family may feel more at home with Aleister Crowley. 'A Certain Degree' has a slow pace set by a Cure style guitar accompanying Kingsley Chapman's North-East brogue. Interrupted with occasional crashes of guitar and bass and with a light touch of glockenspiel, it feels heavily reminiscent of the great early 90s outfit Levitation and is an impressive opener.

The volume is then cranked up for 'All Fall'. Dominated by a fuzzed bass and relentless drumming, 'All Fall' comes across as a far heavier Chapel Club, infused with elements of recent Morrissey output. It is a driving and anthemic song, a dynamic which is repeated in a number of songs of the album. The British Sea Power-esque 'Anxiety' and the Interpol like 'Something I Can't Get Out' are also good representations of this, though both are rather plodding and unimaginative. Thankfully this is just one part of the album and it produces far more than many of the stadium-reaching bands of recent years.

'Kids' and 'Million Dollars' blend shrieks and abrasiveness, along with restrained moments, that could make Sonic Youth proud. While quieter numbers 'She Didn't Know' and 'Virgins (reprise)' takes the pace down to a crawl often allowing the vocals to take centre stage. The bass and pedal-infused gliding guitar hover in the background and only occasionally break through to the forefront, to a building cacophony on the latter. The latter's dark lyric of "I don't think I like what you've become" is nicely at odds with the rather optimistic nature of the closing track.

The highlight is the excellent '1000 Lies'. Beginning with a foreboding industrial background noise and leading into a guitar that sheers through the militaristic drumming, the song is an eerie ode that mixes The Chameleons or The House of Love along with The Sisters of Mercy. It could easily sit on an early Echo & the Bunnymen album and is as good as some of their best work.

So resembling the Manson Family rather than the Partridge Family, Burn Your Town is a brooding and often exhilarating debut. While not exploring any new ground, it clearly stands out above many other hyped artists of today and unlike most, The Chapman Family deserve it.

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