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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chevelle -- Hats Off to the Bull

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9/10

Talk about keeping momentum. On Hats Off to the Bull, their sixth album in sixteen years, Chevelle sound just as energized as they did on Sci-Fi Crimes, even as they add new elements to their sound. Some are subtle, like the introduction of female vocals and 80's guitar tones on "Same Old Trip." Some are less so, and add new descriptors to the Chevelle lexicon of sound: theatrical, atmospheric, wistful, ethereal. This only tends to make Chevelle's more straight-forward rock songs more satisfying. For example, the beautifully spacey acoustic track "Prima Donna" exists in a yearning head space Chevelle have never before occupied:
But "Prima Donna" also acts as a breather that enhances the power of the following track, "Clones." If "Clones" had just been dumped in with like songs, it would lack some of the cathartic power it holds in its album position.

Also, Chevelle's incredible production values continue. The guitar tone is crunchy and excellent, the bass is always present in the mix and holds its own, the drums have the space and punch they deserve, and Pete's voice sits right at the level it needs to be.
With these last few albums, Chevelle have not only perfected their songwriting craft, they've learned how to make engaging, involving albums in which to incorporate these songs. This great diversity from track to track may make Hats Off to the Bull Chevelle's strongest album to date. Even the B-Sides are surprising, like the gorgeous "Glimpse of the Con." (This song ain't on the regular album track-list, sorry)

If Chevelle can keep up this level of creative growth from album to album, I don't see them having any trouble making it another sixteen years.

2011 Epic
1. Face to the Floor 3:38
2. Same Old Trip 3:09
3. Ruse 4:38
4. The Meddler 4:13
5. PiƱata 3:53
6. Envy 4:19
7. Hats Off to the Bull 3:55
8. Arise 4:25
9. Revenge 3:30
10. Prima Donna 3:40
11. Clones 3:27

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