After a nine-year long quiet spell, New Zealand’s The Chills reemerged in 2013 with Something Beautiful, a live album of songs recorded at a private New Year’s Eve party. In the two years since Something Beautiful came out the band has released two EPs, Molten Gold and Stand By (Tour 2014); a collection of tracks from their Peel sessions; and, as of October 30th, a new full-length, Silver Bullets.
Led since their 1980 inception by Martin Phillipps, The Chills have always played a complex but melodic style of indie rock, and Silver Bullets is no exception. “Father Time” opens the record with what sound like monastic chants and church bells before quickly transitioning to the aptly titled “Warm Waveform.” The track is a slow-moving, gorgeous love song that maintains The Chills’ essence even as it avoids the band’s usual melancholy.
Other tracks find Phillips getting political. Early single “America Says Hello” features the lines “the everyday people aren’t free / and they know they’re never going to be / with the powerful keeping them hushed.” Lyrically the song is a major shift from the band’s most popular tracks like “Pink Frost,” “Heavenly Pop Hit,” and “I Love My Leather Jacket.”
After thirty years, Martin Phillipps knows how to write a great song, and The Chills’ latest album is filled with them. Silver Bullets keeps the spirit and sound of the band alive while expanding into new territory lyrically and occasionally sonically, too.