Review: The Chairman Dances – Child of My Sorrow

Child of My Sorrow greets the listener with an atmospheric, almost magical, sequence beginning, a triumphant start crafted with soft-scaled pianos and synths – the like of which can be detected in the band’s August single release “Acme Parking Garage”, which itself supplies an auditory feast of curiousness. Jangly indie guitar melodies suddenly disrupt the ambience of the former, altering the tempo and rhythm with their arrival.

PopMatters have previously described this band’s work as ‘shimmering verses dropping into a dusty, stomping chorus reminiscent of the wandering rock of Springsteen and Darnielle’.

The second track Mascot starts off very vocal focussed with Krewson’s deep, baritone voice paired simply with hazy organ synths. This band has always been very lyrically focussed, and these new tracks appear to demonstrate a continuation of their previous work with story-telling still very much at the forefront. This song’s sound gradually gets more upbeat with the addition of light, snappy percussion and bass, eventually building near the end with the introduction of electric guitars.

Iridescent is another example of a track which starts off calm and atmospheric before the addition of The Chairman Dances’ wide range of instruments. Glistening keys layered across intense synths set the scene while mirroring the track’s title by creating a mystical and shimmery introduction. Poppy bass beats are contrasted with Krewson’s low vocals which are reminiscent of Lou Reed paired with a Jarvis Cocker style of lyric delivery. The addition of female voices within the layered vocals at the end really brings the track together, accompanied by a mix of rolling drums, dainty pianos and electrifying guitars.

Tracks such as No Compass, No Map channel The Chairman Dances’ more indie-folk vibes which are displayed through mellow acoustic guitars and thoughtful lyrics such as ‘trinkets in cigar boxes, mementos saved for the next life’ and ‘a soldier tied himself to a tree, and a poet once sang his way past blackest scenes’. Urgent but beautiful pangs of the piano break up the songs tempo to create an encapsulating rhythm. The BBC has previous described this band as being ‘lyrically adventurous’ and ‘harmonically intricate’  with the album’s title track ‘Child of My Sorrow’ reflecting these vibes, conveying a mix of haunting vocals and dramatic pianos, with deep lyrics such as ‘there’s more to life than pain’.

Krewson has said that ‘It’s a relief to give up something I’ve clung to and considered for so long’ and The Chairman Dances should be proud of what they’ve achieved with this LP. Overall, this album manages to convey elements of chilled out indie and experimental jazz, all underpinned by folk storytelling alongside an air of drama and a passionate delivery of lyrics.

Megan Wood

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