The Chills – The BBC Sessions

The Chills - The BBC Sessions

The Chills – The BBC Sessions

Although we’re still waiting for a new studio LP and a desperately-needed album catalogue overhaul, 2014 has nevertheless been a great year for The Chills’ incremental comeback campaign.  With rapturously received live shows, the majestic Molten Gold 7” and a reissue of 2004’s Stand By EP, Martin Phillipps’ breadcrumb trail return from the wilderness – which begun with 2013’s Somewhere Beautiful live LP – has both sated and heightened hunger for the band’s crafted Kiwi pop confections.  Adding to this laterally-routed reawakening activity Fire Records now closes the year by excavating and beautifully-packaging-up three vintage 1980s John Peel Sessions for the faithful and the newly-converted alike.

The four songs from 1985’s inaugural visit to Maida Vale provide fine encapsulations of The Chills’ formative years knack for blissful folk-rock and pensive post-punk, plucking material from the band’s first single and long-player.  From an utterly infectious organ and rubbery bass fired singalong of “Rolling Moon,” across a jangling gallop through “Brave Words,” via a swooning chiming “Wet Blanket” and on to a mesmerising dark rendition of “Night Of Chill Blue,” the first gathered session is worth the admission price alone.

1987’s equally enthralling session cuts represent a more eclectic shift in The Chills sound with one of many reconfigured band line-ups delivering us the piano-led melodic rush of “Dan Destiny & The Silver Dawn,” the carnivalesque stomp of “Living In A Jungle,” the frantic Johnny Marr-meets-The Feelies outpouring of “Rain” and the wordless filmic 4AD-noire referencing of “Moonlight On Flesh.”

Although 1988’s session is perhaps the least essential of the three, it’s not without charm.  So whilst the shimmering “Part Past, Part Fiction” and the knotty “Effloresce and Deliquesce” are slightly meandering and weakened by ‘80s indie production trappings, the gorgeous harmony-fuelled “Christmas Chimes” is a festive song you’ll still want to play in July and the garage-pop of “Dead Web” nods back affectionately to the group’s first fledgling session.

Overall, The BBC Sessions is another tantalising insight into the song world of The Chills, that acts as another generous interim step towards a hopefully fully-fledged wave of new and/or properly reissued material in 2015.

Fire Records