Monday, July 20, 2009

AOTW- The Chills, Submarine bells



I still consider Submarine Bells the best release by a Flying Nun band, compilations excluded. It's over in a fairly racy 36 minutes, but covers a lot of ground in a surprisingly cohesive way.

There's the folky tied up in chains linking the exhilarating sweetness of heavenly pop hit with the rockier oncoming day, which is then tempered by the intricacy of part past, part fiction and the ballads; the oddness of dead web and the Smiths-like cynicism of familiarity breeds contempt then lead into the extraordinary effloresce and deliquesce, and the whole thing is rounded off by the exquisitely orchestrated sounds of the title track. The fishy cover and Greenpeace info of the liner notes convey something of the dramatic political change taking place in NZ at the time, while Martin Phillips' light hearted sci-fi tendencies (the swooping-past-planets or diving-into-suns of heavenly pop hit and the pseudo astro-chemistry of effloresce and deliquesce) blend with more serious themes of confusion, longing, conflict, and distance.

Give it a listen, either on the box or below, and please post your own opinions.

Spotify link here

21 comments:

steenbeck said...

I'm looking forward to this, Nilpferd. I've liked everything you've posted by them, I think.

Blimpy said...

heavenly pop hit indeed!

Shoey said...

Finely crafted pop-tunes & lyrics, good variety & a solid album. A little bit on the twee side in places for my taste & would like them to rock out a bit more. Biggest problem was with the production that dates it more than is necessary, sounds like it was made in the early 80's. Antipodean accents on record are a bit tricky when you are raised in the UK - Rolf Harris & "Do you come from a land down under" pop into your head, uninvited. This is hardly the fault of The Chills, & this is another good AOTW pick - enjoyed it. Cheers.

barbryn said...

Thanks nilpferd: The Chills are my new 4th-favourite Antipodean band! I think I'll be listening to this a lot. Hooky melodies, smart lyrics and a few surprises beneath the poppy sheen.

Synthetic 80s production usually ruins things for me too, but I didn't find it excessive here.

I reckon ToffeeBoy will be a fan of this one.

nilpferd said...

Thanks for the comments, people! I have to agree in part re the production, but at least it is better than the horrible mush they made of the otherwise brilliant Brave Words, and also better than the overdone follow up album, Soft Bomb.
Ha, amusing remark re the accents, Martin Phillips does have a pretty strong one, although Rolf Harris and Men at work were -ahem- Aussies.. there's a world of difference- to us, at least..

Abahachi said...

A very pleasant 36 minutes, especially on a miserable afternoon like this. I'm afraid I probably won't ever listen to it again, as it's not at all my sort of thing and was just too nice to burrow its way into my brain. Have to say that I didn't particularly register any accent, at any rate not to the point where it was intrusive, just those terribly late-80s guitars. Is it a tremendous faux pas to say that it reminded me a bit of Crowded House, with less immediate tunes but a more interesting approach?

barbryn said...

It also reminded me of The Datsuns, "How Bizarre" by OMC and Flight of the Conchords...

nilpferd said...

Glad to have brightened up your day, Aba! I don't see the Crowded House similarity myself but neither do I detect any faux pas in suggesting it.

nilpferd said...

Cheers, Barbryn, and thanks for picking NZ bands for the accent comparisons.. ;-)
I will do a general flying nun post at some stage, for those of you not sated enough with kiwi drawls and ringing guitars..

barbryn said...

I forgot to say that it also brought to mind Katherine Mansfield's short stories and the Lord of the Rings films ;-)

nilpferd said...

Aaargh!
The mention of LOTR sets off an allergic reaction with the 'pferd.. might be the time I was flying into Auckland, and the cabin crew announced smugly "Welcome to Middle Earth!"
Although to be fair, I haven't seen any of the films.. a friend of mine knew Peter Jackson back in the early nineties, though, and didn't paint a very flattering picture of the guy.. hey, that's reason enough to be prejudiced, I have to do something for my chip-on-the-shoulder kiwi image here..

ejaydee said...

I liked most of it, like I thought I would, the production didn't bother me in this case, although maybe sometimes I would have liked a more assertive voice, but that was only the first listen.

nilpferd said...

Thanks, Ejay. I might be stepping on Tinny's dropbox toes here, please sing out if I am, but for the benefit of comparison I've added three versions of tracks off the album which were recorded during a Peel session, slightly earlier I think than the album versions, hence the less well developed lyrics in places, but the production is quite different. Sadly only available on the very limited Secret Box edition.

maddy said...

oh my god nilpferd i am so excited about this! hi everyone, i'm really sorry to have gone awol for such a long time, and for not turning up to the social on saturday, i was fully intending to come, but i'd spent the whole day with the kids while poor mrcorvette had to work, and then in the evening (too much detail alert) toddler's poo leaked out of the nappy and the accident wasn't spotted until i'd stepped in it and transferred two big smudges to the rug, combination of that and general tiredness and knowledge that i wasn't going to be able to have more than half a small drink guilt-free bec i'm still feeding and finally becoming a fully fledged south londoner in that travelling across the river seemed too much faff and having a pot of cream in the fridge that really wanted to be made into a lemon ice-cream ultimately meant a no-show for me. gosh, and you all deserve a big helping of said ice-cream for wading through that sentence. ooh, nilpferd, i so love this band, think i'm going to have to be doing a lot of listening to this on the laptop while it's around. anyway i'm just stopping by briefly to say hello bec as usual i have 300 hundred things to do this evening - i've gone back to work a bit earlier than expected and got some stuff of that to do, plus hoping to watch a film tonight, so i won't tell you any of the reasons for going awol because we'll be here all night and that wouldn't do at all. oh but one more thing, for ejaydee and steenbeck, thank you so much for talking up the q-tip album on here, it was the babies' birthday present for their dad a couple of weeks ago and it's been a BIG hit in this house, we especially love the song manwomanboogie, and it's also led me to ruby andrews who i'm having a new favourite singer moment with, so hurrah for you two, and apologies again to ejd that i didn't come along on saturday to say that in person. ENOUGH BURBLE! nilpferd, thank you thank you thank you again for the chills. love to all xx

nilpferd said...

You're most welcome, Maddy! Ha, I remember the ol' poo two-step only too well.. these days it's more the intricately constructed objets d'art which have a habit of getting under my feet..
now, let me try some of that ice-cream.. mmmm, delicious..

DarceysDad said...

Um, Maddy? [If I may steal a joke from Kelsey Grammer's Toy Story 2 character] "Two words ... dee caff!"

Seriously, glad to hear you're all OK. Shame you weren't at the Social, but if you are anywhere near finishing being a personal feeder for Ben, maybe we can talk you into getting a flat cap and a passport, and coming to the impending RR Northern Social v2.0?

Cheers.

maddy said...

this, people, is what happens when you spend entire days talking to a two-year-old and a four-month-old: in the presence of grown-ups you go a bit mental. i've just had a really lovely 40 minutes catching up with spill reads while listening to chills (effloresce definitely in my top songs of ever ever) and galaxie 500 c/o i think shane, and reading about goneforeign's bizarre encounter with basil from harder they come and found steen's mods'n'rockers playlist which i'll listen to tomorrow, and discovering that barbryn's had baby2 - belated congratulations! have you had what me and all my friends have had: that forehead-thwacking feeling that if only you'd realised how EASY a baby is compared with a toddler, first few months with baby1 would have been a breeze? anyway off to watch the film finally - and the extended spill community breathes a sigh of relief...

ejaydee said...

Hi Maddy, shame you couldn't make it on saturday, but thanks for taking the time to tell us why you weren't there. Hope to see you at the next one.

P.S> You might have fun with this:
http://samplesets.blogspot.com/2008/11/sample-set-102.html

steenbeck said...

Good to see your name Maddy! Glad you're enjoying the Q-Tip.

Nilpferd--I'm really liking Submarine Bells. I've had a distracted day for listening, but I love the pretty melancholy songs mixed with more (can't think of a better word) rocking songs. I need to listen to it all again. and again.

Off to work. I'm late as usual.

barbryn said...

Nice to hear from you Maddy. "have you had what me and all my friends have had: that forehead-thwacking feeling that if only you'd realised how EASY a baby is compared with a toddler, first few months with baby1 would have been a breeze?"

Oh yes. The worry is that we're still in the easy stage. Two toddlers... how's that going to work?

DarceysDad said...

Erm . . . I'm sayin' nowt, me!

I love my daughters, really I do.