A person can do a lot with three chords; significant and noble acts have come to fruition from just three chords; social change has been galvanised, stagnant means of expression have been ditched and the world forever changed to the beat of three chords.
Above all, and for the better part of a century, they have served as the musical tools best suited to set pulses racing.
Felix Champion don’t just use three chords, they use all the chords; and all the scales.
They also utilise every bell and whistle and every hardcore, post rock, pop rock and math rock trick in their armoury; the result doesn’t so much set pulse racing, as set the head spinning with sensory overload.
This Lateral Life materialises with some ethereal guitar and synth touches, allowing the listener a breath of air before the onslaught begins.
Just as ‘Intro’ fades from view, the band ignite with ‘Snow Graves’, which introduces many of the key traits to the Felix Champion sound; layered voices, arpeggiated guitar lines, rhythmically precise drumming and chugging riffs.
From the outset it’s evident we’re listening to a well-drilled musical outfit, that they have taken time to learn their trade and cement a kinship as a band.
Songs like the pulverising ‘Canyons’ are testament to their musical prowess, as to is ‘Breath In, Breath Out’ with its clipped dynamics ad searing melodies
As a whole, the album stays on point; rarely does the band pause for reflection, opting instead to fill as much sound into the mix as possible.
Occasionally they ease off the gas for a bluesy breakdown as in ‘These Four Walls’, however this only gives the band time to form ranks for an even stronger assault.
Of course with such a varied sonic palette, the band clearly cast their net over an extensive range of influences, many of which are highlighted across This Lateral Life’s thirteen songs.
The benchmark sounds of Enter Shikari and Biffy Clyro (to name but two) echo throughout, and far from being mere copyists, the band absorb and reinterpret these influences into a wilfully epic sound of their own, however with so much going on, the sound does overwhelm to the point of being claustrophobic.
Such intensity is inherent to the genre(s), of course, but with the absence of any levity whatsoever, it all begins to resemble a mass of ricocheting, yearning emotion.
The lyrics, although written well, fail to shine much light onto proceedings either and the mid-Atlantic harmonies and throat-shredding shrieks prevail throughout.
Though as stated above, these are traits particular to this brand of musical endeavour, and there is much to admire here.
Taken at face value, this is the sound of four guys in total command of their instruments, searching for a sound as monumental as their musical forebears.
Who knows? If this is your particular brand of bombast, and you require more for your money than three chords, Felix Champion may become you new favourite band.
Words: Brendan Sloan