The Chills – Submarine Bells/Soft Bomb re-releases review

The last time The Chills played in Leeds they had the misfortune of turning up on a sunny Summer’s Monday night; lead singer Martin Phillipps dryly commented that the weekend before they’d been on stage in front of thousands at the Primavera festival in Spain, but despite the lack of bodies, the New Zealanders rattled off a pristine set with the sort of enthusiasm that comes from getting second, third and fourth chances.

Phillipps is no stranger to misfortune and neither are The Chills. Having formed in Dunedin in 1980 they were key protagonists in creating the much vaunted Dunedin Sound, but even with that distinction their melodic post punk seemed unlikely to have much more than cult appeal until they were signed by an unsuspecting major label in 1990.

Submarine Bells was the first fruit of this unlikely union and despite the heavily ironic title, ‘Heavenly Pop Hit’ was just that, a hefty nod to late period Beach Boys which gave the band a domestic number one album but went largely unappreciated elsewhere.

Phillipps then disbanded that iteration of The Chills before making 1992’s Soft Bomb, for which he brought in the auterish Van Dyke Parks and delivered a brooding, fifty minute song cycle far more in keeping with the band’s older material.

Now both reissued on vinyl long after the originals were deleted, each has it’s own tale to tell, ones much more interesting than Phillipps temporary paymasters were willing to hear at the time.

You can read a full review here.

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