Beauty in Death is the third studio album from the Australian alternative R&B band and production trio from Cairns, Australia. The group consists of lead vocalist Mitchel Cave, guitarist and vocalist Christian Anthony, guitarist, saxophonist, and backing vocalist Clinton Cave. Their newest album is the cherry on top of what is already an excellent discography with continuous themes and creative influences resulting in a smooth and flowing album arc.
It’s difficult to describe Chase Atlantic’s style. Think punk-pop meets alternative R&B meets moody trap soul, whatever genre they do occupy the subjects of their songs will always strike a chord in one way or another. Beauty in Death, as with their other work, focuses on highs and lows of substance abuse, depression, loneliness, and heartache and it’s almost certain at least one of these will be familiar to you.
Having seen them on tour in a gloomy, backstreet Bristol club complete with sticky floors, crowded mosh pit and chaotic staging, their newest album didn’t disappoint on the vibe. The album artwork is punky and weird, setting the tone for their songs and their general aesthetic. Imagine drug fuelled joy riding down dark, twisting country lanes as dawn approaches before crashing into an unmade double bed, the room bestrewn with old dishes, overflowing ashtrays and dog-eared posters. Euphoric exhaustion sets in and you drift off to sleep in the arms of the other half of your dysfunctional relationship. As someone not really living the life Chase Atlantic croon about, I find their music excellently diverting and transportive into another kind of life that I’ve only experienced in films and books.
“The energy is less mosh pit, head banging, and more vulnerable”
Unlike previous albums, specifically, their self titled debut album and subsequent Phases, the energy is less mosh pit, headbanging, and more vulnerable. There’s talk of heartache and relationships crumbling. With this newest album you certainly get the feeling the band are writing from the mirky depths of real heartbreak rather than prematurely ended flings. There is a sense of desperation and loneliness with the single ‘Molly‘ which hops on the bandwagon of their practice of female titled songs including ‘Roxanne’ and ‘Cassie’. ‘Molly’ is both an ode to a girl and the drug and you come away feeling hooked on the chorus but pitying the boys for their chemical reliance.
‘Call Me Back’ is a triumph and is perhaps the most vulnerable the band has ever been, I found myself invested in the storyline of the lyrics picturing myself at a phone booth waiting on the end of a line for a call that just won’t come. The saxophone solos continued to be the icing on the cake, tipping you over the edge and making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. There were some unfortunate additions as with any album. Their single ‘Out on the Roof’ was a disappointment and I felt didn’t fit in well with the other songs. In the build-up to the album release, I didn’t hold too much hope, fearing that a lockdown produced album might be somewhat of a train wreck with too many clashing styles and experimentation. Instead, lending it to be more so a vanity project sound than a catalogue of art. ‘Please Stand By’ featuring De’wayne and Xavier Mayne was an unwelcome addition, jarring and out of place with the low fi vibe of the rest of the album. The three voices simply didn’t mix and coming almost slap bang in the middle of the tracklist made it an obstacle rather than an extra.
The title seems a little pompous and perhaps more appropriate for their earlier work which seemed to look drug-related and misadventurous death squarely in the eye. This time around there’s a sense that there’s more to lose and there is, in fact, no beauty in it. Overall, Chase Atlantic’s Beauty in Death is an excellent album and I look forward to when they will be able to tour again.
Image Credit: Poppy Atkinson Gibson