Charts is a band who ascends an enormous pile of post punk, new wave, and garage rock revival. These guys pretty much don’t give a shit. But when you listen to their new Vacation EP, you can’t help but wonder if they’re actually criminal masterminds plotting to take over Portland with their contagious party rock. They’ve moved towards higher quality production techniques, and can we just say it sounds so good.
There are a lot of elements working together to make Charts the delicious new wave candy with a creamy doo-wop center it is. The album kicks off with the energetic reverb’d vocals and guitars of “Settling Down,” a distant tribute to the aesthetics of great 80’s bands like New Order. But then the listener is warped back another 20 years in history for the next two tracks “Burn Out,” and “I Don’t Mind.” This diptych draws on the slowly walking bass-lines of early 1960’s pop, Phil Spector, and doo-wop for a subdued, dreamy sound. It’s reminiscent of an episode of American Band Stand where the audience dances and sways as the music dissolves their anxieties completely. Instead of singing about holding someone’s hand or being anybody’s baby, Charts uses more current themes like being close to a hopeless stoner or maintaining indifference in the face of (passive) aggression. Also working to update the vintage sound are fuzzy guitar and vocal effects, which point towards Chart’s lo-fi history while giving us a glimpse of what their music sounds like if it were produced by one of the nation’s best producers. The album comes full circle with “Get On The Bus,” a great surf-y, garage-y track like the first, the perfect closer as it ends with the imagery of leaving town on a beach-bound booze-cruisin party bus with Charts.
Vacation EP was released earlier this month. Have yourself a listen. Fork over the five bucks for the digital download, or Portlanders can see their outrageous live show Friday April 26 at Record Room and pick up a physical album there. The rest of the nation will have to sit tight for the next time Charts literally gets on the bus.