Bristol indie rock band ‘Chay Snowden’ is trying very hard to be the lighters blazing, mosh pit inducing, audience serenading, young girl crazing, edge of the envelope brit-rock outfit that we are so familiar with. But they don’t need the poor Justin Young impersonation to make an impact: their latest two singles are packed with the blazing instrumentals and absorbing character that stands solidly alone. Where ‘Mon Sheri’ is a loud-mouthed, vivacious rock song, ‘Sha La La’ is uncomplicated and tender; the juxtaposition of which the band pulls off seamlessly.
‘Mon Cheri’ jumps straight in with keen eyes lyrics, ‘well versed and well-travelled’, paired with fast-paced, driving guitar and drums. It takes a welcome breath of quiet before diving into the chorus, the hook of which is the perfect combination of catchy and uncommon. Indie influences of Kings of Leon, The Strokes and maybe a touch of The Clash reverberate in the ambitiously rambunctious instrumentals. Lyrics sway between forefront and side note, as thrashing guitar takes centre stage. Its rowdy but it’s contained, sure to make the audience lose their heads, but still maintaining careful musicianship – not an easy feat, as indie-rock bands these days are no stranger to sacrificing proper tunes for easy hooks and blustering drums. The building beat of the drums at the end is a roaring finish, the energy not pausing throughout.
Whoever who said brit-rock needs edge was looking in the wrong place: it doesn’t need to have a lot going on, it just needs to make you want to move. While ‘Mon Sheri’ is a little rackety on headphones, it is sure to be the perfect medicine to make the audience go wild in live performance. Chay Snowden’s record of sold-out shows is perhaps a testament to this.
In unforeseen comparison ‘Sha La La’ has that distinct ‘80s summertime with Baby’ flavour. It has a man in a long, blue leather coat, nursing a whiskey at a bar on the highway, just waiting for the impossible girl to lean over his table and remind him how to fall in love, sensibility. It opens with a glaring Arctic Monkeys affection, paired with Elvis-esque crooning vocals from frontman, Chay Snowden. The lyrics do the song a favour: they are sensitive and clever, drawing out that prom-night story, with glamour and intensity. This slower, reflective track is a mark that Chay Snowden is not only emphatic festival favourites; they have some true talent hidden under all those hooks. The electric guitar solo towards the end of ‘Sha La La’ is neon lights in your tumbler glass, beautifully engineered and perfectly complimented.
Chay Snowden clearly has something to offer, and the breadth and ability of their music are evidenced in these two singles. While they are perhaps at their best when they’re not trying to get the unsuspecting listener to join the mosh pit.