Monday, April 5, 2010

The Chameleons - what does anything mean? basically (1985)

The symphonic splendour of "Silence, Sea And Sky" opens this sophomore Chameleons effort in style: it's multi-layered orchestral wash "swimming" in reverberation and creating a feeling of celestial wonder. This symphonic tapestry permeates the background of "Perfume Garden", a more lyrical version of their pompous post-punk, articulate and melodically strong. With a less spectacular melody, "Intrigue In Tangiers" fares less well, despite the bombast involved in the orotund vocals of Mark Burgess, and the heavy-weight epic arrangements. In all honesty, the stilted nature of their music reflects what U2 were doing at the time in The Unforgettable Fire.

Incorporating this grandiloquent symphonic and mildly psychedelic ethereal framework in a more powerful post-punk track such as "Return Of The Roughnecks", the result is good, but not spectacular. In "Singing Rule Britannia", the bombast is effectively counteracted by a sad melody in the chorus. Alas, the recipe gets a bit same-y by "On The Beach". The more traditional "Looking Inwardly" feels much better. They return to the gloom-rock in "Home Is Where The Heart Is", the symphonic pomp this time backing a feeling of paranoia and working more efficiently, though no less declamatory. After all this bombast, the more straightforward lyricism of "P.S. Goodbye" comes as a breath of fresh air.

Overall, The Chameleons overstate their case a bit too much, which results in an uneven album, better balanced than the debut, but without majestic highlights such as "Monkeyland" and "Second Skin". Get it here.