Chrash – The Party

The Party

Chris Bernat – the mastermind behind such incarnations as Chrash, Chrash Landing, Chrash Cringle, and assorted others – was once the frontman of the mid-90s rock band Tripmaster Monkey, band that, I have to admit, is still one of my favorites. Although not touting that connection now, there’s hints of those guitar-driven days in Bernat’s solo work. But keep in mind: this is not a big alt-rock project by any means. Rather, Chrash’s albums are more the baring of an artist’s personality and soul.
Judging from the little I know of him, Bernat is not one to take seriously by any means. There’s a video on this disc in which he espouses the philosophical benefits of wearing 3-D glasses, and his live shows as Chrash apparently are likely to include pyrotechnics, smoke machines, and a “dildo microphone.” But for the most part, The Party is a low-key affair, simply produced and possessing more charm than edgy rock angst.
The opener and closer, “I’ll Turn off All the Lights” and “Light Through Darkness,” are very pretty, low-key affair, filled with acoustic guitar and plaintive vocals but possessing more up-beat choruses with nice backing vocals. The acoustic guitar on “Kids with Swords” is pretty, and the whole song has a more laid-back and mellow approach. “Burning Bridges” is more electric than acoustic, but it’s extremely sweet-sounding, and even Bernat’s vocals are prettier on this one. The layering of “Springbored Break” and added instrumentation (strings and keys) gives it much more of a classic pop feel. Other tracks are a big bigger in nature, more rock-driven, such as “The Blanks” and “To the Person with Too Much Perfume,” which would not sound completely out of place in Tripmaster’s glory days. The latter is a good example of Bernat’s sense of humor in his songs.
Where the album is less successful is when Bernat gets a bit carried away. “True Color Blind One” has so many disparate elements – from bouncy retro-style beats to keyboards and even stranger instruments, that it gets a bit chaotic. Trying to sing “Bridge Work Ahead” too closely to the melody makes it feel a bit odd, almost spoken rather than sung, although Bernat does hint to a more alt-country feel on this track. And “The Sordid Details” sounds like a quickly thrown-off alcohol-infused bar-room rock song.
Fans of Tripmaster Monkey – and I know there are a few out there – might enjoy hearing Bernat’s new project, but certainly his former band isn’t required listening for his newer project. The Party is not an especially cohesive album, but it’s a fun one, charming one minute and playful the next. It may not succeed on all levels, but it’s a fine showcase of a singer/songwriter’s tremendous talents.