Often music comes across my desk from bands I’ve never heard of before and am unlikely to hear of again, but occasionally, just occasionally, you hear something new that puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
That’s exactly what happened with Ode to Scarlet – the second album by West Midlands trio Chord.
Everything about this record reeks of good taste, from the beautifully designed cover art, to the lovingly crafted music within.
Singer Darren Barnard‘s voice is an instrument in itself, crystal clear and pristine and he receives fine support from lyricist Anthony La Pusata (keyboards/guitar/electronics) and Girish Patel on drums and bass.
Songs such as album opener Yesterday’s Storm, with its thundery effects and clever use of double-tracked vocals, show they know their way around the studio.
But they’re not afraid to let a song breathe as on the immense title track and the piano-led Fight.
They can be shamelessly poppy as on To Have And To Hold and the romantic Ugly Like Knives, but always avoid being bombastic or trite.
There’s a seamless blending of the acoustic and the electronic and even when they come over a bit Gary Numan on Science it sounds authentic.
The epic, sweeping Someone in which Barnard’s vocals float across a wash of feedback guitar is a highlight along with Life Support Machine, which has echoes of the mighty Kraftwerk in its closing keyboard refrain.
For a relatively new band, Chord sound like they’ve been around forever, with a sound vaguely reminiscent of Mark Hollis’ post-rock pioneers Talk Talk.
Ode to Scarlet is a very well made record deserving of a wider audience.
Here’s hoping it gets one.
Review by Matt Catchpole, Essentially Pop