New Zealand, home of The Chills, a rock band that’s been playing since the 80’s. To fans, their music is marked by intense lyrics and mesmerizing guitar melodies. Somewhere Beautiful is their latest album, and more importantly, a live compilation of all their greatest songs. At nearly an hour long, the album is like a paradise built specifically for Chills fans.
Somewhere Beautiful plays out exactly how you think a live album wouldn’t… Generally speaking, most live albums at least create the illusion that you’re at a show, but Somewhere Beautiful is far from that. Instead, the album is definitely closer to a compilation of The Chills’ songs, that plays out in a very lackluster way. There’s nothing to go crazy over, there’s no defining moments, it’s as if the music is just sort of there.
Comparing songs to their original recordings proves disappointing as well. Martin Phillipps (singer/frontman) sounds ever passionate about his music, but at the same time, like he needs to remodel his approach. For instance, comparing “Heavenly Pop Hit,” to the original is shocking. The song seems a little faster this time around, and it begins to feel rushed at some points. Phillipps is also much more energetic in his singing. Sometimes it’s a godsend, other times it’s just plain sad. Phillipps is either breathing new life into the song, or howling like some old dog.
On a more positive note, some of Somewhere Beautiful is not only good, but pretty awesome. “Pink Frost” stood out to me the most. The band speeds things up a little again, which again creates a rushed feeling, but, Phillips seems a little more in his element, and the instrumental portion is timeless.
For the most part, there’s this constant feeling that had the band did this as a studio recording, taken their time, and really paid attention to the details, this would be the perfect compilation. Not even just for preexisting fans, but a way to really make a big splash and gain some more attention. There’s nothing really horrible about the album, but it just feels sloppy. From a personal standpoint, as somebody who has never really been a fan of The Chills, Somewhere Beautiful has at least earned my curiosity. The band seems to fall somewhere between Depeche Mode and David Bowie. That said, maybe they’re at least worth looking into.
There’s no doubt, fans of The Chills are going to love Somewhere Beautiful. It’s packed with some of their most loved songs, and they stay fairly true to their original recordings. For new listeners, it may be a little more questionable. All in all, one could only hope this means we can all expect some new material from The Chills fairly soon.
MP3: The Chills “Heavenly Pop Hit”