The sun shines that little brighter and warmer this morning – even here at the southern edge of the world – with news of a new album from New Zealand legends The Chills. Due out on 14 May 2021, ‘Scatterbrain’ is the band’s seventh studio album and will be highly anticipated by those enamoured of the legendary Dunedin sound: jangling, sparkling, unadulterated pure pop.
A taster was provided late last year – read my review of ‘You’re Immortal’ – and The Chills have fluttered their collective eyelashes at us with another track, ‘Monolith’. It’s like the travails of 2020 are far in the rear view mirror.
‘Monolith’ has that indefinable sparkle that can be detected in the eye of songwriter-in-chief and core of the band, Martin Phillipps – a certain irrepressible glint, a hint of cheekiness mixed in with a naive tone and a razor-sharp melodic strength. There is a mystical astral theme to the lyrics – Phillips has always been the master of opaque imagery that is both knowing and naive at the same time. The accompanying video is suitably trippy and psychedelic as Phillipps lauds the powers of mysterious stones – utterly delightful and wholly enigmatic. As Phillipps says,
There are hard but important truths in our history. I know that it’s often said that you learn from those lessons or you’ll end up repeating the mistakes. So one should respect and consider the ancient ways. You belittle them at your peril.
Worship indeed at the feet of the venerable force that is The Chills:
‘Scatterbrain’ follows the release of the tale so vividly told in the sublime and poignant film biography of Phillipps, ‘The Chills: the Triumph and Tragedy of Martin Phillipps’ reviewed by me in May and available here. It also follows the release of the reissuing of two of The Chills’ seminal albums, ‘Submarine Bells’ and ‘Soft Bomb’, on vinyl, both remastered and released on 5 November 2020 through Flying Nun Records and Fire Records.
The Chills are of course at the vanguard of epic New Zealand indie pop and join fellow erstwhile Flying Nun labelmates and compatriots The Bats and Dead Famous People in releasing new material recently – a surfeit of joy and contentment for us fans of the kiwi music scene.
You can pre-order the album, out through Fire Records and Flying Nun Records, in a variety of formats here, including striking coloured vinyl. The cover is another triumph of design that typifies The Chills:
Feature Photograph: Alex Lovell-Smith