Chronophage Chronophage LP

CHRONOPHAGE is a band that slowly wooed me. I’ll fully admit I wasn’t open to embrace their first two releases What is the Mystery of Love? and Prolog For Tomorrow—something about the lo-fi production of the first didn’t light up my enthusiasm for the second, and I couldn’t break through it. But it was Th’ Pig Kiss’d Album that was the skeleton key that opened up everything for me. I love having my mind changed by a band, especially if they’re not being pushed on my plate. I could tell there was some true songwriting happening in this band, unhindered by aesthetic tropes or genre. This new LP is another progressive step, with influences I can only hint at. There are sounds that are familiar to the ear and on the tip of my tongue, but I’ll avoid embarrassment by incorrectly guessing. Written and recorded as the pandemic waged on in uncertainty, the songs seem to reflect the dismal nature of the outside world, and the warm light and strength found in the internal worlds of friendship and love. The production and arrangement of the first three songs suggest fighting through some sort of dense depressive fog, the songs floating in a milky pool of feeling, melodies, and verses, but without any resolution. That’s when “Summer to Fall” kicks in with that instantaneously hooky descending bassline, twanging bites of power pop guitar, the keyboards humbly humming harmony underneath while the vocal ascends with that simple but resonantly tender line “You woke me up at midnight / To tell me you were scared.” The structure of it gives you one perfect hit of dopamine and excitement after another—a trickling sunshower of piano, a clashing call-and-response bridge, back to the undeniable chorus, with a spoken word closer coda. It’s a completely Perfect Pop Song. “Black Cloud” is a similarly strong statement, skeletonized with doomsday jangle and sweetened with synth string stabs, lyrics that sound like viewing scenes of desolation and desperation from a car window, moving through it but never away from it. From this point on the record, the murkiness found on the A-side dissipates, and the closers “Burst the Shell” (a slow-burning blue beauty) and “Fear Agony” (a sharp-tipped rocker with an ecstatically messy fuzzy climax of a guitar solo) conclude the record like you have (or it has) woken from a dream with total clarity. CHRONOPHAGE is one of the few bands currently going for whom I’m excited to see how they grow creatively and sonically. Their music is imagining a better brighter world while still fighting the dysfunctional and doomed one we still reside in.

Chronophage Th’ Pig Kiss’d Album LP

CHRONOPHAGE’s 2018 debut LP Prolog for Tomorrow skillfully synthesized a whole host of outsider pop influences from the past half-century (New Zealand’s Flying Nun/Xpressway scenes, scratchy UK post-punk, the weirder strains of vintage college rock, ’90s lo-fi indie, etc.) without it ever falling into a haphazard pastiche, and its follow-up Th’ Pig Kiss’d Album only further refines that kitchen-sink approach—a band clearly operating on a contemporary DIY punk wavelength and all that goes along with that, but sounding more like a deep cut from the late ’80s Homestead roster alongside SALEM 66 and MY DAD IS DEAD or something. “Absurdity” and “Any Junkyard Dreams” tilt toward brittle and skittish art-punk, with bassist Sarah’s soft-but-deadpan vocals drifting out over of squeals of damaged keys, “Talking Android” and “Siren Far Away” are slightly twangier Texan takes on the HUMAN SWITCHBOARD’s wiry ’60s garage/’80s post-punk duality, and “Heartstone” starts out in hyper-minimalist YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS/MARINE GIRLS territory and ends up (not far away) in the K Records-adjacent early ’90s pop underground. If you spent your formative years staying up all night to obsessively record tapes of college radio shows and/or 120 Minutes episodes (or if you imagine that you had, if you’re not of a certain age), it all makes perfect sense.

Chronophage Prolog for Tomorrow LP

I’m horrifically late writing this review. I’ve been putting it off because I’m so afraid I won’t be able to do justice to this brilliant, unique, compelling debut LP by Austin’s CHRONOPHAGE, one of the best and most interesting bands in the world right now. This record sounds like everything I want when I see the tag “DIY” applied to a band: it’s chaotic but confident, it’s off-kilter but unbelievably catchy, and it sounds like it could have been made only by them. They’ll probably get a lot of comparisons to the Messthetics compilations, and that’s fair (although I think the Homework series would be more apt, since CHRONOPHAGE sounds unmistakably American to my ears), but it’s also frustrating. CHRONOPHAGE doesn’t sound like the past; they sound like the future. Or at least they sound like the future that I want to live in. Prolog for Tomorrow gets my strongest possible recommendation.