Chin Up Chin Up

This Harness Can't Ride Anything

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Although the comparatively straightforward guitar pop of the Chills, the Clean and the Bats is what broke through to the biggest American college radio audience, a trawl through the back catalog of the great New Zealand indie Flying Nun Records reveals a ton of smaller bands working in considerably different musical circumstances. The comparison comes up because the second album by American indie rockers Chin Up Chin Up shares most of its musical DNA with folks like the Tall Dwarfs, Look Blue Go Purple and the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, even if these Chicago-based youngsters have probably never heard of those groups. A considerably more pop-oriented album than the band's quirky debut, This Harness Can't Ride Anything has a thin, trebly sound that emphasizes the dry, scratchy guitars and rickety, Moe Tucker-style drums underneath Jeremy Bolen's occasionally yelpy vocals, but all of those potentially off-putting elements are put in service of a newfound interest in traditional pop-song structures. This mixture of clattering, ramshackle arrangements and smartly put-together tunes, best heard on the nervy, breathless jangle of "Water Planes In Snow" (a terrific song that -- no kidding -- recalls the early days of the Go-Betweens) and the surging Motorik drone of "Islands Sink," is an intriguing new direction for a band that previously seemed more interested in artsy, diffident post-rock.

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