Chad Valley | Young Hunger
Hailing from picturesque city of Oxford, Hugo Manuel – better known as Chad Valley – is one of the leading proponents of the chillwave movement currently sweeping the music scene on both sides of the Atlantic. Cut from the same cloth as American artist Toro Y Moi, Manuel first set tongues wagging and ears twitching with the release of his self titled EP in June of this year. Not content to rest on his laurels, Manuel has collaborated with some of the most up-and-coming acts around, including Glasser, Totally Enourmous Extinct Dinosaurs and Twin Shadow, to release his first full length LP Young Hunger on the Cascine label.
Young Hunger is an ethereal breakup/new relationship album for the cynical and love damaged twenty-somethings. With its laid back yet haunting melodies softening the often sad and self doubting lyrics, the first half of the album takes the listener on a journey through yet another heartbreak before transitioning, through instrumental track “Interlude”, to a journey of discovery and the rebuilding of trust.
Though some argue that the chillwave movement, of which Chad Valley is a leading proponent, has outstayed its welcome, the dreamy keyboards, heavy synth use and drifting vocals of Young Hunger create a washed out bubble of sound that still seems so very spot on – a welcome burst of fresh energy in the genre’s continuing party. With soaring, often repetitive vocals drifting over the top of cascading laid back electronica, multi layered synths, samples and keyboard bursts Chad Valley conjures up an almost unearthly, hypnotic effect laced with a musical complexity that pushes him head and shoulders beyond the relative, apparent, simplicity of peers such as How To Dress Well or Teen Daze.
The album kicks off with ‘I Owe You This (feat. Twin Shadow)’, a cascade of electronic melodies overlaid with fragile lyrics such as “I don’t want to do this wrong” and the repetitive chorus “I’m the same as you, I’m the same as you”, before the sublime ‘Tell All Your Friends’ – with its frank honesty in the face of crumbling love and imminent loss, “Tell all your friends, tell everyone, all I can think about is you” – drags the listener ever deeper in. Post ‘Interlude’, the album takes a more upbeat turn and transforms the story arc of the album towards new love. This change in direction is born out with lyrics such as “I met a girl who could tell me anything”, from the title track “Young Hunger” and “I feel like I don’t know what you do to me” from “My Life Is Complete”, which features the fantastic Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
There is an anomol however. The only track that doesn’t seem to belong in the same category as the rest of the tracks on the album is “My Girl (Feat. Jack Goldstein)”. Both musically and lyrically the track lacks the subtlety of others present here and seems closer to an attempt to bludgeon a reaction out of the listener than slowly transport them to another plane in the manner of tracks such as the majestic “Fall 4 U (feat Glasser)”.
Despite this minor hiccup Young Hunger is a refreshingly honest album that combines intelligent writing with addictive hooks and repetitive choruses that will have listeners reaching for the repeat button over and over again. If there is any justice Young Hunger should catapult Chad Valley straight into mainstream consciousness where he undoubtedly deserves to be.