Review Summary: Upbeat, rhythmic, fast-paced shoegaze meant as much for those who "rock out" as for those on an acid trip.
Shoegaze had definitely reached its pinnacle in 1991 - My Bloody Valentine
came out, Ride
had been released the year prior, both to huge acclaim from their audiences in the UK. Unlike the others, however, who had almost completely hidden the pop melodies in their works, Chapterhouse
only shrouded them in a sea of mist (not pink fuzz, for once). Whirlpool
mixes rock freakouts like those found in "Guilt", and the effect-laden "Falling Down", with drum-driven trips like the fast-moving "Breather", and the poppy "Pearl."
Madchester had more or less grown independently of the Shoegaze scene in the US, but Whirlpool
takes its samples and heavily rhythmic beats and mixes them gloriously into a sea of jangly, distorted guitars (especially on lead single "Pearl"). The pop melody is not hidden in this album, but it is brilliantly twisted into ways never thought possible by the likes of this reviewer. Other songs use samples for a similar blending of cultures, showcasing the band's hard rock side with "Falling Down", a song which may sound obnoxiously filled with wah-wah pedal foolery but pays off - like most of these songs do - with an anthemic (yet still drowned out) chorus which glorifies rock until an explosive climax.
The vocals, as well, are top notch, even in a genre where vocals matter very little, especially in opener, "Breather". Seductive, out-of-breath, and atmospheric, they uplift the album with their sense of content, yet shroud it also in mystery with unintelligible lyrics.
Where Chapterhouse goes wrong, however, is in tracks which do not have any rhythm. No matter the talent that exists in the band - no one wants to listen to 5 minutes of un-ground psychadelic fluff and effect-foolery. However, in an album of only 9 songs, so many are pop gold that this only takes the album down so much.
's pink fuzz and Nowhere
's ocean waves, the cover of this album describes the inside perfectly - lightning bolts surround a lone wolf cowering in on itself. Lightning all around, the wolf has no choice but to fear - but it doesn't need to. The lightning of this album is warm, based around pop melodies with a base of hard rock, but spacey, its vocals soaring high into the atmosphere, or perhaps deeper into the whirlpool.
Fans of genre should not miss this excellent, underrated album which is truly something extraordinary.