released July 6th, 2010

from the album - Even Your Friends

from all music

British electro-rock band the Chap were formed in North London by Claire Hope (keyboards, vocals), Johannes Von Weizsäcker (guitar, vocals, cello), Panos Ghikas (bass, violin, guitar, vocals), and Keith Duncan (drums). They released a 10" EP, Fun, on Lo Recordings in April 2002. Their debut album, The Horse, was released on April 28, 2003, followed on September 29, 2003, by the EP (Hats Off To) Dror Frangi. Their second full-length album, Ham, was released on June 27, 2005. A second EP, The Chop, came out on June 11, 2007. Their third album, Mega Breakfast, was released in Europe on May 19, 2008, and in the U.K. a week later. They signed to Ghostly International, which issued Mega Breakfast in the U.S. on July 1, 2008, as their first official American release. At the same time, Hope took a pregnancy leave from the group and was replaced temporarily by keyboard player and singer Berit, who had previously played in a band with Von Weizsäcker called Karamasov, then worked with Omo. After touring in support of Mega Breakfast, the Chap recorded their fourth album Well Done Europe, a sleeker, more electronically inclined set of songs that was released in mid-2010.

album review

Somehow, the Chap managed to write a set of songs even more satirical and mannered than Mega Breakfast’s proper songs about girls and clubbing. Well Done Europe is also more playful and quite a bit more cohesive musically, trading Breakfast’s eclectic bombast for clean, ultra-stylized electronic pop. This focus allows the band to be even more meta than usual, taking aim at favorite targets like fragile egos, pop music tropes, and themselves. They’re past masters at arch disdain: “We’ll See to Your Breakdown” opens the album with cheery threats that wither the surrounding music into glitchy chaos, while “Well Done You” twists the knife with lyrics like “That was quite a feat … considering.” The Chap embraces and subverts musical clichés especially well on Well Done Europe, allowing them to have their hooks and deconstruct them, too. “Even Your Friend” is one of the album’s big (anti-) pop moments, with huge choruses about summertime love that, despite the church bells and “oh yeah!” backing vocals, sound pretty far from romantic or summery. “Unusual But Nice” is quiet storm the Chap’s way, and “Torpor” — one of the album’s few rock moments — namedrops Hall & Oates and “Elvis Rex” over jagged new wave. Of course, one of Well Done Europe’s best songs is about the band itself. The simultaneously self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing “Nevertheless, the Chap” is this album’s answer to Mega Breakfast’s “Ethnic Instrument,” so cheeky and referential that it’s a wonder that the song’s “critical beats” are as infectious as they are. But even though nearly everything the Chap does is couched in quotation marks, a pensive undercurrent pops up now and then — not enough to stop the band’s wit, but just enough to add a wry twist. “Obviously” debates whether or not there is a god, and though it name-checks prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, the layers of vocals asking “is anybody still out there?” make the answer poignantly unclear. As usual, the band’s music is fascinating above and beyond the humor. Their sounds save them when the words get too elliptical, as on “Gimme Legs”’ wobbly surf-pop or “Pain Fan”’s dance between shiny rock and electronic chamber pop. The album also features some of the band’s most musically daring moves, such as “Few Horoscope”’s flirtation with Balearic chillout. Typical of the Chap, Well Done Europe is filled with quirks, and not just obvious ones; it’s more cohesive, yet somehow less immediate, than Mega Breakfast was. Nevertheless, you can hear the gears turning in their music, and these songs offer more wit and musical surprises with each listen.

Track Listing

1 We'll See To Your Breakdown
2 Even Your Friend
3 We Work In Bars
4 Obviously
5 Gimme Legs
6 Well Done You
7 Nevertheless, the Chap
8 Pain Fan
9 Torpor
10 Moroccan Nights
11 Few Horoscope
12 Chalet Chalet