Chin Up Chin Up

We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers

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Rather like the suddenly famous Modest Mouse and the unfortunately less celebrated Minus the Bear, Chin Up Chin Up are the friendly face of the subgenre most commonly dubbed post-rock: the songs on We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers are rife with unexpected dynamic shifts and tricky instrumental parts, but there's something unfailingly pleasant about these undemanding little pop songs. Part of it is the Chicago-based band's melodic strengths; songs like "Collide the Tide" (a holdover from 2003's self-titled debut EP) blend the vocals of guitarists Jeremy Bolen and Nathan Snydacker in a complex but enticing blend, and the rhythmic trickiness and unexpected left turns in the arrangements never undermine the songs' inherent catchiness. The title track and "Virginia Don't Drown" are far catchier than songs with such unrepentantly pretentious titles deserve, and it's a rare band that can turn a song called "Get Me Off This Fucking Island" into a wah-wah-enhanced blending of Eno-vintage Talking Heads and (no kidding) Parklife-era Blur. Recorded after a band tragedy (the group's original bassist, Chris Saathoff, was killed in a hit-and-run accident outside a Chicago club on Valentines Day 2004; the elegiac closer "All My Hammocks Are Dying" pointedly lacks a bassline in tribute), We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers is surprisingly focused and optimistic, and a non-stop delight.

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