Young Hunger

Chad Valley

Cascine Records, 2012

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Bedroom pop extraordinaire Hugo Manuel keeps his hands full. When not playing with his full band Jonquil or being part of The Blessing Force Collective, he records under his solo moniker Chad Valley. Opting to use an actual producer with my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Young Hunger, Manuel broke away from his standard recording making process, collaborating with Active Child, Glasser, El Perro Del Mar, and Twin Shadow, among others here.

Manuel admits this is an '80s record in terms of how much time was spent in the production process. But it's also a very '80s record in terms of his sugary sweet pop hooks and infectious synth work. Opener “I Owe You This” could be the most quintessential '80s song ever, a soaring electro-pop jam with quirky synth. “Fall For U” finds Chad Valley entering R&B territory with Cameron Mesirow (Glasser) helping out with vocals, while “Up And Down” exudes a hypnotic quality with dense beats. Though the majority of this is high energy and thumping, things do become less wild with “Fathering Mothering,” which is Chad Valley's version of a ballad. This is a very personal disc lyrically, though the massive amount of swirling melodies and upbeat atmospheres might mask this fact.

While the first half of the album is comprised of glorious dance music, the second half brings things to a slower pace and a sometimes more serious approach. Album closer “Manimals,” with Pat Grossi of Active Child, is the most emotive and direct song here, a dreamy, beautiful closer.  Longtime fans will notice the absence of the lo-fi tendencies in Chad Valley's prior work. This is a giant, lush, and very polished album with multiple vocalists and a whole lot of reverb and programming. If you find yourself having a hard time coming to terms with an interest in current pop music, this will be a nice fit for you, something you can latch onto in lieu of whatever is popular this week in the mainstream.

Rating: B

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© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Cascine Records, and is used for informational purposes only.