chalk and numbers

Brooklyn duo Chalk and Numbers are Sable Young on vocals and Andrew Pierce on instruments. As with some of the most successful duo’s of the past few years (well, you know White Stripes and Black Keys) they make music that harks back to a past era, but instead of 40’s/50’s blues, Chalk and Numbers relive the swinging (quite why I put that there I don’t know, but it just seems to sort of fit) 60’s.Their latest EP is titled Parade, and you can get hold of it over on Bandcamp

Opening track Pretty Colors comes across as the sort of cross of 50’s inspired girl pop alongside some indie-pop groove we’d been expecting , with the echoing guitars slightly reminiscent of Harlem, but it’s the infectious melody and girl gorgeous girl harmonies that make the track really work. It dances around in your consciousness, poking smiles and prompting unexpected head-nodding and the like.

Boy continues the uplifting feel of the EP, with Doors style keyboards  heralding one of the sweetest, catchy tunes I’ve heard all year. It’s part Dusty Springfield, part Ronettes, part George and Ringo, and ALL brilliant.

In the dark follows on from that, understated organ, and a more stately speed, evokes late night listening, with this stabbing guitar melody working against the tune, again this sepia covered throwback to 50’s torch songs. It so stripped back at the beginning, that when it opens out into the chorus and on its initially one of those ‘skips a beat’ moments, before becoming the sort of song that slightly drunk old people sway from side to side to, and I mean that as a very high compliment.

I smiled at the start of So much for the bay. I think it’s because Chalk and Numbers have got this 60’s sound right off. I don’t want to say it’s pastiche, more in homage, almost Misfits style, to what preceded them some 40 years before, but this again (a feature of the EP) has such strong melodies that you wonder if you’ve heard it before.

Things You Do ends the EP. Slightly more psych than the other tracks but still looking back, it’s maybe what would have happened if you’d taken all the aggression out of The Cramps, but again the harmonies melt any resistance you might have had.If I wasn’t sold before the twangy guitar solo (I was anyway) I certainly was after.

I sometimes watch those American programmes where they say things that I scoff at, like ‘Sometimes you have to look back to go forward’. I normally switch straight off after that, but with Chalk and Numbers, I’m sold.

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