Earth Loop

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Being an Irish quartet with a female lead singer wasn't exactly going to be easy for Chimera once the Cranberries hit it big -- the comparisons started and dogged them from there. However, both bands are distinctly different when it comes to the late-century rock they performed. While the Cocteau Twins were a definite reference point for both (the artwork for Earth Loop alone indicates that much), Chimera follows that track from there to My Bloody Valentine on the one hand, and winsome indie pop à la the Popguns on the other. The combination is particularly fine; if not the most original of bands, Chimera knows how to assemble the parts very well indeed. Lead singer Eileen Henry's vocal swoops are lovely without being unintelligible, her lyrics about love and their twists and tangles suiting the rich, changing music. Guitarist Ted Laverty is the other secret weapon, double- or triple-tracking his guitars to create the lush, crunching soundscapes for everyone to play in. Stripped-down songs like "Night Song" also have their place, but Laverty likes to throw in some nice tones and chimes here and there to flesh things out. Flanging is a solid part of his repertoire, as the initial guitar tones on "Catch Me" show, but from there, it's off into using tremolo, heavy fuzz, or whatever else suits the mood. One of the group's most attractive fusions is "Tiago," which straddles the Cocteaus/MBV divide with the simplest of switches in guitar intensity. Other lovely examples of their work are "All I Need," with its pianos rippling up through the mix, and the concluding semi-rock out "Lost in Space." While there are moments when things can get either too sticky-sweet or a touch bland, Earth Loop is on balance a pleasant, engaging listen.

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