Heart pumping smiles from the alt-pop soundscape.
Montreal based CHANCES enchanted me with their debut album in 2018. It was a heady mix of alt-pop that merged together dramatic voices, unusual instruments and synthpop. When you peeled all the fancy bits away, their music was based on strong melodies and powerful vocal arrangements. With their follow up EP ‘Connection’ they continue to forge their own path beautifully and artistically.
This time around, the music is slightly more alt-pop focused than before. Keyboards, bass and live drums fill out the sound. The trio reminds me of Mesadorm and Gracie & Rachel in that they make the artsy approachable but still raw. Key to all of this are the dual vocals of Chloe and Genevieve. Often singing together and then layering themselves as their own backing group, their voices are often used like keyboard samples. It gives the EP an aura of beauty, air and lightness that balances out the heavy percussion.
Easy singles that are sleeper hits in waiting bookend the EP. ‘Little Chaos’ is catchy and swanky with an aggressive streak to it. ‘Connection’ reminds me of late 1980s pop anthems where the production levels meant throwing 50 layers of synths and drum ensembles to make a rapturous impact. CHANCES ensure they aren’t a parody by streamlining that excess into something that lifts your spirit but doesn’t overload you. When added to the sweet warm glows of ‘Gold Night’, which out Corrs the Irish band with ease, there is a trio of accessible and easy repeat songs to enjoy.
Beyond that, its the more quirky and expressive songs that really pulled me in. ‘Out of my Head’ is a circular whirlpool of vocals that spiral into each other over scattered organs and drums. It’s something you’d expect from Hundred Waters – a sound, not a stone’s throw away from what CHANCES are crafting. ‘Black Ice’ waltzes its way beautifully with a glossy alt-pop number into your mind with hazy synths and muffled drums whilst ‘The Original Sound’ borrows from power ballads of the late ’80s. Big puffy synths, huge drums, power chorus vocals like a Peter Gabriel track and the expectation of lots of hairspray everywhere.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Connection’ as a great follow up to ‘Traveler’ from 2018. I would have loved an album but these six tracks continue to show why CHANCES were so high up my albums of 2018 list. Catchy, emotive, euphoric, tapped into their own passion and soul – there is so much here to love. If you love adult pop with a synth edge and some declarative vocals and lyrics – you need to play this, Loudly. You’ll leave smiling.
Recommended track: Connection
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