The Chapman Family
added: 2 Jul 2012
// release date: 18 Jun 2012 // label: Best Before Records
reviewer: Claudia A
Stockton-on-Tees outfit The Chapman Family
offer anything but homely cosiness with Cruel Britannia
, a hard-hitting wake-up call for the post-punk generation.
Now expanded to five players, the current family members are Kingsley, Pop, Owen, Scott and Kevin Chapman. It already sounds like some sinister clan dabbling in incest and what have you but hey, we’re talking a proper creative clan here.
As the rather unsettling sleeve images suggest, this ain’t exactly music for a family outing, no pun intended. Dark and loud, the EP rallies against an idle and intolerant culture amongst other thought-provoking topics.
Vocalist Kingsley prophetically suggests “Let’s have a day with no more tears, no more lies, no more hate”
on opener ‘No More Tears’. It’s a number driven by heavy guitars and a pounding drumbeat, with occasional shouting that compliments this angst-ridden affair.
Title track ‘Cruel Britannia’ drifts into more melodious territory and despite it’s bleak lyrical content, the musical arrangement is really energetic – almost catchy even – with a dominating goth-rock sound a la The Mission
, and some punky undertones. Brilliant!
‘English Life’ strongly orientates itself on the Morrissey
book of song-writing and it’s somehow fitting, given the fact that the Chapman Family have included a Smiths
cover on this EP. The song slides from subdued vocals to sudden snarly aggressiveness, and back to gentle-as-a-lamb again. Just as with the two previous numbers, the instruments tend to overpower the vocals and it’s somewhat of a shame, for the CD doesn’t offer any printed lyrics with its sleeve.
In the same vein lies ‘Cruel Britannia’, not many uplifting things are said about England here either: “There is no hope, there is no time, this English life is falling apart.”
Quite… but at least Morrissey’s approach of dealing with anger, disillusionment and pessimism is infusing his songs with a sense of irony and humour!
Well then, let’s hope I wasn’t completely wrong in detecting some irony while listening to ‘Summer Song’… “She comes now, I’m wasting away, wasting my time, wasting my life.”
Dear god, lighten up once in a while, kiddo! Musically though, it’s pleasantly complex with its mix of harmonious guitars and a penetrating refrain.
Final track is the aforementioned Smiths cover, namely ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’. The Chapman family have opted to turn this into a sombre, melancholic affair that’s both soothing and mellow, and it works well. With the instruments just about scratching the surface, you can finally hear Kingsley’s vocals clear and it adds to the song’s overall emotion.
Here’s an album for the thinkers, the movers and the shakers. Whether it will encourage enough to change things, who can say?
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