Grain Chatten | Chaos For The Fly Review
Chaos in Harmony: Grain Chatten’s Brave New Sonic World
by Griff Stevens
When Grain Chatten, the magnetic frontman for Ireland’s acclaimed post-punk quintet Fontaines D.C., unveiled plans for his debut solo project, music lovers paused. With Chaos For The Fly, released June 30, 2023, via Partisan Records, Chatten steps away from the shadow of his successful band and dares to explore a new musical realm that’s distinctly his own.
The indie rock-infused album is an intimate collection of nine tracks born out of moments of respite from the relentless touring of Fontaines, D.C. Weaving in threads of introspection and bleak storytelling, the record thrums with emotional resonance, painting vivid portraits of small-town lives and human failings. His lyrics, an artful mix of the personal and universal, find their roots in his Dublin upbringing and echo through each composition.
“The Score,” the opening track, sets the tone with a melancholy vibe brought to life by Chatten’s expressive vocals and a deep, moody synth that cradles an acoustic guitar’s arpeggio pattern. “Last Time Every Time Forever” deviates from the conventional rhythm structure, creating a skipping waltz-time feel. The seamless interplay between Chatten and his fiancée, Georgie Jesson, who contributes guest vocals, adds a compelling texture to the soundscape.
“Fairlies” and “Bob’s Casino” both showcase a more aggressive side of Chatten’s vocal colors. The latter, with its seventies pop vibe, features a conversation between Chatten’s rising vocals and trumpet sounds in the finale. In “All Of The People,” Chatten’s critique of the music industry comes to the fore, making for an evocative listening experience.
“East Coast Bed” and “Salt Throwers off a Truck” exemplify Chatten’s and producer Dan Carey’s mastery of post-production skills, from a delayed vocal section to their unique application of reverb. Meanwhile, “I Am So Far” and “Season For Pain” demonstrate the harmonious vocal blend between Chatten and Jesson. The closing track encapsulates the album’s sounds, making it a fitting conclusion to this introspective journey.
Overall, the album leaves a powerful impression. It speaks to a versatility and depth in Chatten’s musicianship, from the diverse vocal timbres to his keen ear for layering textures, creating an array of tonal shifts across tracks. Drawing comparisons to artists like The Stone Roses: led by Ian Brown and the Gallagher brothers.
The record isn’t without its shortcomings, though. The songwriting could benefit from more variations in song forms, and the melodies, while rich in emotion, lack the memorable hooks that genuinely stay with listeners. After one entire listening to the album from start to finish, at the end, I could not sing a single melody. Still, these minor weaknesses do little to dim the strengths of the album.
In conclusion, Chaos For The Fly is an exploratory project that underlines Grain Chatten’s ability to pivot away from the successful formula of Fontaines D.C. It’s an album of introspection, honest storytelling, and intriguing sonic layers, offering a slice of Chatten’s musical persona that’s decidedly raw and refreshingly different. It’s a testament to his artistic evolution, encouraging us to lean into the chaos and listen more for the buzz.
Chaos For The Fly
Label: Partisan Records
Release Date: June 30, 2023