Plumbiferous Media

Modern Rituals - Chief

Aug 19th 2010
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Modern Rituals - ChiefChief
Modern Rituals
Score: 32








LA rock band Chief, found­ed in NYC when the mem­bers were stu­dents at NYU, has released their debut album, Mod­ern Rit­u­als, just a year after the band returned to its Cal­i­for­nia home. Unfor­tu­nate­ly,Mod­ern Rit­u­als is nei­ther a par­tic­u­lar­ly well-exe­cut­ed nor a cre­ative album. Incred­i­ble amounts of rep­e­ti­tion, unin­spir­ing vocals, and lyrics that epit­o­mize “gener­ic” work togeth­er to pre­vent the album from being much more than tol­er­a­ble.

Chief’s instru­men­tals are eas­i­ly described: dense, har­mo­nious, coun­try-rock instru­men­tals. There’s real­ly not much more to say about them, sim­ply because there’s not all that much more to them. That’s not to say they’re bad per se - in fact, the band mem­bers seem to be quite promis­ing tech­ni­cal musi­cians - they’re just not very good artists. This style has been done so many times that in order for it to be any­thing above mediocre, it has to be some­thing spe­cial, which this is absolute­ly not. Chief’s music seems to be about as gener­ic as pos­si­ble, and as a result, Mod­ern Rit­u­als has the ten­den­cy to act as back­ground music and lit­tle else.

While some tracks def­i­nite­ly try hard­er than oth­ers, the scale is quite rel­a­tive. Mod­ern Rit­u­als sounds more like one very, very long track with very, very lit­tle con­tent, even if some sec­tions are some­what bet­ter than oth­ers. To be clear, this does not sound like the kind of album that suc­cess­ful­ly uses high­ly con­nect­ed tracks. Those albums, if exe­cut­ed prop­er­ly, devel­op, change, and flow, even if the tracks link togeth­er strong­ly. Except per­haps by lis­ten­ing to the cho­rus lines, it is more or less impos­si­ble to dis­tin­guish between tracks on Mod­ern Rit­u­als, and this is, nat­u­ral­ly, not a very good state of affairs.

Evan Koga and Daniel Fujikawa share vocals on Mod­ern Rit­u­als. This gives the album a bit more diver­si­ty than it would with a sin­gle vocal­ist, but doesn’t real­ly do much past that. Both vocal­ists take the same approach towards coun­try vocals: singing in the most gener­ic man­ner pos­si­ble in an appar­ent attempt to man­age the quin­tes­sen­tial exam­ple of the art. This, unsur­pris­ing­ly, does very lit­tle good, and it doesn’t help that nei­ther vocal­ist has much grasp of nuance, mak­ing absolute­ly cer­tain that as lit­tle cre­ativ­i­ty as pos­si­ble can creep into Mod­ern Rit­u­als’s vocals.

The best that can be said about Mod­ern Rit­u­als’s lyrics is that they’re quite well suit­ed to Koga and Fujikawa’s approach to the vocals. The worst that can be said about Mod­ern Rit­u­als’s lyrics is that they’re quite well suit­ed to Koga and Fujikawa’s approach to the vocals. It’s less a con­tra­dic­tion than a con­dem­na­tion of Mod­ern Rit­u­als’s innate lack of cre­ativ­i­ty. The album reads as lit­tle more than a pas­tiche of rock-lyric clichés, from “And I wan­der in this land / And I want to make you under­stand” to “There’s a mil­lion mil­lion miles of wall / Can­not climb over / They are too tall / And I know / And I know I wish there wasn’t one at all / That’s just my dream / I wish that I could see them fall.” It also doesn’t help that every one of these severe­ly lack­lus­ter lines is repeat­ed at least three or four times.

As a whole, Mod­ern Rit­u­als is forty-five min­utes of the kind of dull that pass­es bor­ing and moves straight into painful. The kind of dull that makes you wish for dry­ing paint as an excit­ing alter­na­tive, the kind of dull that makes you wish for the worst of Green Day, sim­ply because that band at least pio­neered this style of lyrics. Mod­ern Rit­u­als is not a good album. It doesn’t even have the cour­tesy to be an amus­ing­ly ter­ri­ble album. Instead, it’s a waste of time; Time that you could spend lis­ten­ing to a jack­ham­mer or a cry­ing child, because if you’re going to be annoyed, at least make sure it’s done prop­er­ly.


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One Response

  1. Dave says:

    Great Album, do you know their web­site? tks

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