A fantastic mash-up of indie-pop and corners of the world
Alternative Montreal based trio Chances released their debut album “Traveler” earlier this year and it’s superb mix of indie pop, world fusion moments and well thought out vocal melodies and harmonies make it one of my sleeper hit albums of the year.
Chances kick off their album as they mean to go on. Chunky drums and synths that rumble and flow perfectly together with “Unlock the Rhythm” mean you’ve got a heavy instrumentation to buy into. The vocal style of the band is often where the world music influence creeps. The vocals are almost always dual-layered in harmony like traditional folk music or Aboriginal music. Alongside the great hooks that each song has, this vocal approach, that then spreads out to chanting like backing vocals too, is their secret weapon. It’s gentle but full on at the same time and “Fire To Go” is the perfect example of it. How this isn’t blasting on mainstream radio as a huge hit yet I’ll never know – it’s mature indie pop perfect.
Worldly influences pop up throughout the album. Lovely plucked fiddle style instruments and prepared piano create the backbone for a sweeping tom drum explosion ballad in “Leave the Light On” that is both rousing and uplifting. Arabian organs and vocal flicks create the smooth groove of “Hide Unseen” before they go apocalyptic for the tense and taut “Rishikesh” which is a full-on assault of warning bells and danceable questions of life. It’s a personal favourite. Much like another favourite album I discovered this year though (Mesadorm’s Heterogaster), Chances love to mix up genres and styles but in a cohesive way. Going from Asian electro-rock straight to an angelic vocal new age piece for “Words” sounds jarring but it works fantastically. It’s the perfect showcase for vocal talents of the band and underscored in a late Cocteau Twin’s sci-fi synth, the track shines as a beacon of peace and tranquillity.
Being a Montreal based trio with plenty of cultural influences the Anglo/Franco side pops up with French and English spoken tracks “Rejoin-moi” and “Assez, I Said”. Both are more indie-pop gems, the former being coyer with its gems to unfold them slowly before its epic conclusion whilst the latter is a breezy mid-tempo anthem. That leaves us with “Shine” which sees the album return back to the earlier styles of the album with another would be instant hit – the chorus is so catchy I often have it on repeat – and the quiet vocal piece “Travelers” to round off a uniquely awesome album.
I stumbled across the album by pure accident and I haven’t regretted it one bit. Chances have pulled together a really interesting and unique blend of indie-pop and world electronica whilst having a vocal approach that is based in folklore. The result is something that sounds new and old at the same time and with their ability to craft catchy songs with depth – “Traveler” is a powerhouse album everyone should enjoy. Buy it!
Recommended Track: Fire To Go
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