If you can imagine an odd mixture of twee-esque melodies, early-Wilco acoustic guitar lines and indie pop vibes, then Sky Chefs is what that image would be. This interesting band is creatively lead by Dale Nicholls, a resident of LA who conjures up the majority of his art in a basement with his old computer and random array of miscellaneous musical gear. Sky Chefs has released a new eponymous LP Sky Chefs that is extremely catchy and fun to listen to with many of the songs portraying a tale, story, or lesson, making the overall experience very pleasant.
I found the production quality of the album to be very solid, and with that being said, I was surprised to learn that the record had been recorded in a plethora of places, as it all feels very familiar and sounds very consistent throughout. Then again, I think that chaotic aspect of travel fits well thematically with the album.
This album does a very solid job of creating textures that work well within the dynamics of each song. The combination of horns, guitars and occasional synthesizers/sequencers make for an eclectic range of tones, but they somehow all fit pretty well under the same mask. I also quite enjoyed the male/female harmonies, and some of them reminded me of REM’s Document era.
One of my favorite songs from the LP is the opener titled “MI Basements” a fun tune that works very well as an opener, as it contains several elements found throughout the rest of the album— harmonies, acoustic guitar feeding into electric guitar and a catchy vocal melody. It’s a song that describes a person’s every day, monotonous struggle, such as “credit card statements,” yet at the same time facing more emotional problems in his personal life. However, despite the positive aspects that this song possesses, I found that the downside that exists within the tune to be a consist downside throughout the majority of the album— I feel as if there isn’t much change in aura or feel. Although there are a lot of textures found within the album, most of the moods that the songs portrayed seemed, to me at least, to be very similar. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the songs ran in to each other, but they came close. It almost seems as if Sky Chefs utilize a sort of formula with their songwriting, which can be both good and bad. Positively, the formula is a good one that I can definitely enjoy, yet at the same time that formula used throughout the entirety of an album is a little much.
I found the lyrics throughout the LP to be continually witty and clever, which is something that is unusual to come by, however, whenever it happens, I can’t help but to smile. The strength of Nicholls’ songwriting is obviously pervasive within his music, but I would say his lyrics are what made the album stand out to me the most. For example, the opening of “Colonize” begins with the line “I slit the wrist of the alchemist / Just to watch the time / Now let’s get high on someone else’s dime.” Sky Chefs do a wonderful job creating a certain amount of space for the vocals to flourish, yet at the same time maintaining solid instrumentation. I really look forward to hearing what Sky Chefs puts out in the future, as Sky Chefs exhibits so many strengths in both songwriting and production.
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