Music is a brutal game, never more than in the last year or so for reasons in the northern hemisphere that are well documented elsewhere. This near disaster has made the continued renaissance of The Chills and it’s leader Martin Phillipps a grin-worthy story of beating the odds. It’s not too long ago that the quintet’s singer-songwriter was being warned off using mouthwash because the alcohol in it could kill him after a decades-long battle with Hepatitis C, but happily one of New Zealand’s most venerated groups aren’t ready to call it a day quite yet, Scatterbrain the follow up to 2018’s Snow Bound.
Phillipps has recovered, but it’s impossible to receive a prognosis like that and for it not to have an effect. He does some admirable facing up in public on Destiny, a track which could’ve been desperately awkward without his fatalistic honesty, whilst Hourglass gently holds a mirror up to anguish and the mental health issues caused by such a difficult personal journey.
Scatterbrain to the band’s credit isn’t the angry, maudlin or self-pitying record it might’ve been. There are even moments which recall the divine psychedelic pop of their global hurrah, 1990’s Submarine Bells, whilst on The Walls Beyond Abandon and Worlds Within Worlds they’re still making noteworthy additions to a cannon which will be cherished long after the vault is closed, whenever that is.
You can read the full review here.