Literature - Chorus

by David Bruggink Rating:8.5 Release Date:2014-08-18

It's easy to make the argument that new sonic directions are being taken in music these days, especially when such meticulous, digitally detailed albums are regularly being churned out and lavished with praise (FKA Twigs' debut, for instance). Similar to video games, the artistic potential for songwriting created by progress in technology is impressive, but at the end of the day, I sometimes find myself wondering if all the digital sheen is really necessary.

It's comforting to know that some bands are still making music the old fashioned way, and clearly enjoying themselves as they do it. On Chorus, Philadelphia's Literature serve up a half-hour of pure, exultant, jangling energy that flashes its influences (and contrived British inflections) proudly. There are the crisp, New Order-inspired guitar-lines which seem to snap perfectly into place, balanced by billowing background harmonies and choruses that reach skyward; there are the slightly more earnest numbers like 'Court/Date' and 'Kites', which evoke the watercolor textures of Cocteau Twins as they burst into one incredibly catchy section after another. Despite their recognizable forebears, Literature manage to make their brand of indie pop feel entirely fresh and vital.

Most of the songs deliver such a sugary rush that it's difficult not to imagine the band having a flat-out fantastic time as they run through the near-breakneck pace of the album. Indeed, the first track begins with what sounds like the band invoking cheers and glass-clinking at a bar, and the jovial mood doesn't get many chances to subside, making it all the more stunning when a track like 'Kites' sees Literature strike a more serious pose.

Though the C86 and jangle-pop influences prevail, there are intriguing hints of other styles on the album, like the touch of surf-guitar on ‘Blasé’ and the surprisingly welcome foray into acoustic Britpop on ‘Chime Hours.’ Literature may be comfortable drawing influence from indie-pop luminaries of the 80s, but like their Slumberland labelmate Devon Williams, they’ve proved with Chorus that they’re more than qualified to do so.

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