Chalk – Nothing Left to Do But Die

Chalk
Nothing Left to Do But Die

The boys in Chalk like to fiddle. No, not fiddle like that instrument you play with a bow, but rather fool around to make noises just to see what they sound like. I can see them at Christmas unwrapping a new electronic doo-dad and getting very excited, immediately twisting knobs and connecting it to various amps and pedals, just to see what sounds it would make. These electronic fiddlings are an intricate part of Chalk’s sound on this full-length, not simply scattered throughout but making up a major part of the instrumentation. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t casio-pop. These aren’t simple keyboards. This is electronic scrawls and hums, feedback galore, blips and beeps and squeals. And it all takes place in the midst of rock songs. Cuz these guys can rock, and they rock hard on every song. What makes them so unique is all the electronic noise and sounds that they blend in with the rock.
“Mothra” starts out the album loud and angry, electronic blips and beeps making a suitable background to the straight-ahead, fuzzed-out rock sounds. The vocals here are totally British glam. On “Fetish,” the singer sounds like the singer for Suede, high-pitched and passionate, with loud guitars and fuzzed-out riffs. “SLR” has keyboards and drum-kit beats mixed around spacey ambient stuff, with almost Cure-y vocals. Notice every song has a vocal styling relating to a different British band. And “Change” is even more electronic spacy-ness, with distorted vocals. You can almost hear the knobs turning. But the vocals kick in ala … a non-high-pitched British singer. It has almost a gothic feel to it, dark and moody and spacey. “Shutdown” is slower and moodier, again with the electronics secondary to the rock. He’s back to sounding British on “Let it Go,” a more poppy, upbeat number. “Liar” is almost danceable, at times Curey, at times an even bigger sound. And finally, the album finishes with “Stereo Foe,” the most electronic fiddlings of all, very loopy and experimental.
Chalk manage to throw a new element into the prog/glam/rock sound – a 2000’s sound, you can say. It’s like combining DJ and new-wave electronicist, and maybe a little Brian Eno, all in with a hard rocking band. Wow, what a combination. Don’t get me wrong with all of the British comparisons, these guys are from the U.S., and they don’t particularly sound like they’re copying sounds. Each of these songs rocks in their own way, with its own unique twist.