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This Fun Might Kill Us

Album Review

This Fun Might Kill Us by Chatterless

Author: Cocaine for Toothaches

 

Serenity.

As far as the United States is concerned- one of the most beautiful, yet criminally underrated, areas of the country is the Pacific Coast; specifically in Oregon.  The towering bluffs, overlooking dazzling sea-coves that sparkle like gold dust in the sunshine.  The impossibly quaint fishing villages that offer some of the best seafood you can possibly get.  The confusing absence of crowds normally associated with nice beaches.  The Pacific Coast Highway which gives breathtaking access to the 300+ miles of pristine coastline.  And the sunsets!  O, the sunsets which render Helios himself crippled with jealousy.  Majestic, pure, powerful sunsets of Sol dipping down behind the veil of the Pacific whilst lighting it completely on fire.  

And what of synthwave?  Synthwave is neon; synthwave is buildings; palm trees and burning sun; machines and cars; Tokyo, Los Angeles & Miami.  But for me, synthwave is above all driving music.  Music for the road trip.  Music for the car stereo.  And one of my absolute favorite places to drive is the Oregon Coast, which I actually recommend to everyone with absolutely full bias intact.  Now, what music to adorn the sound-reproducing system of such a sojourn?  Well I just happen to have a fine candidate:  This Fun Might Kill Us by Chatterless.  So, let’s hop into our 1963 Corvette Stingray convertible (synthwave doesn’t always have to be Ferrari’s, you know), and press play while we make our way track-by-track from Astoria to Brookings while we still have the weather on our side (which is no guarantee in these parts). 

The door shuts and we begin.  “Today is Tomorrow.”  The funky synth bassline is what catches the ear first—ever-so-slightly swung to make it even a bit funkier.  This is the element that drives the tune as the centerpiece.  The other synths just sit on top for color.  There’s a woosh and an edm cliché of the speeding up snare going into a transition.  Later a break/quiet section, before the bassline re-enters and gives the song its drive back.  The Tom fills are laid back so as not to interfere with the flow.  In my head I can see the trees whiz by at a steady pace whilst I am entombed in the car, driving the coast highway endlessly.

Cascadia” starts with glassy synths playing scalar melodies with a slight echo that serves really as light percussion, like a shaker in the background.  The synth bass comes in but it’s not the star here.  In the break section other synth textures pick up the mantle, choked off and clipped synths that add a little flavor to the digital environment.  Again, understated drums.  This project is flavored definitely more as chillwave or a related term rather than any kind of synth rock or even synth pop.  I found my head bobbing with the feel of this track.  

A very rich and satisfying synth bass, full of flavor and texture, gets us going on “Balcony Views.”  An envelope-filtered synth takes the simple melody over the four-chord vamp.  There are a couple of oscillations between full arrangement and stripped-down parts.  There are melodies and counter-melodies, non-standard synthwave percussion, and that delectable bass which all come together to make this a tasty dish, worthy of any dinner party entrée.  Or even just fish & chips at a roadside beach café.

A clipped synth keyboard part that reminds me very much of Christmas kicks off the title track.  The drums come in with side chain compression, which seems like the first time so far on this album.  An arpeggiated synth makes its way in for chordal information, and it seems to have a bit of pitch waver which gives it a little more character.  When all the instruments are in the whole mix seems to be compressed quite heavily, and some pumping and soft clipping is definitely happening.  I’m not sure if this was an intentional artistic choice or if the levels were just a bit too hot.

Immortal Surfer” starts with a semi-pluck sawtooth synth playing a melody, starting down a major 7th chord and then veering into figures more based on off-beats which get resolved with the addition of percussion.  The bass surely doesn’t resolve it since it’s playing on its own dotted-eighth-note-based motif.  In fact, the bass doesn’t always sound quite quantized and digitally locked into the grid for timing (although it’s at least close), and that lends the tapestry even more color.  All in all a quite nice track.

The percussion on “Room Service” is much more from the dance variety—kick with subdued attack yet drawn-out boom, sixteenth-note hats that don’t really vary at all, super-clicky snare that pitches up into transitions—but the track itself is a bit more subdued than the rest of the album so far.  Dusk has retired and nightfall has settled on the coast highway, and only a couple scattered streetlights from a sleepy little fishing village and one passing car illuminate the roadway.

Our drive comes to an end with “Sunset Flow” in the speakers.  Arpeggio-driven, straight-timed, melody-less, just a perfect continuous ditty to move the camera back behind the car as we watch the vehicle accelerate into the night down the ribbon of highway.  Fading into the distance, the ocean on one side, the town and trees on the other, into the midnight blue that tints everything.  Taillights, like all things, eventually disappearing from view, and our eyes are left to ponder the darkness.

 

Motel for the night.

 

This Fun Might Kill Us is an ideal soundtrack for this drive.  No vocals to interfere with our thoughts, no radical changes to kill our vibe.  Just the feel of the sun, the salt in the air, the cool breeze off the water, the sunset.  That majestic sunset over the Pacific Ocean which, if you’ve never experienced it, is hard to relay the absolute stunning beauty of it all.  Pick up this album, get a convertible, a cheap pair of sunglasses, and go live this experience.  Dye your hair blonde.  Grab a surfboard.  Wear penny loafers with no socks to accompany your pastel shirt/white coat combo.  

But have extra layers with you because it probably won’t be that warm.  This isn’t Miami.

 

 

“This Fun Might Kill Us” released on November 18th 2022 and can be found on all platforms HERE
You can find Chatterless at the links below:

Spotify

Apple

YouTube

BandCamp

Instagram

 

 

 

About the author: Coke has been around music a long, long time. As a child in a family of musicians and in-and-around a family-owned studio in the 1980’s, he has seen the ups and downs of the music scene and lifestyle. He plays/has played several instruments including piano/keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, and even dabbled on low brass and drums for a bit, as well as being a bang-average vocalist. Coke studied (and won departmental awards in) composition, theory, and classical guitar performance during undergraduate work, as well as taught private guitar lessons for children and adults. He spent ten years (up until the pandemic) as a superstar guitarist/bassist/musical director in the CCM world, before crashing down to earth, humbly surrendering all that non-existent fame and fortune for the quiet life. He now endeavors on synthwave-adjacent music, working as a shipping boss, and living with his wife and (some of) his six grown children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, USA.

 

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