Chain Wallet: No Ritual (Jansen Records)

Norwegian dream pop outfit return with excellent second LP

Released Feb 15th, 2019 via Jansenplateproduksjon / By Richard Lewis
Chain Wallet: No Ritual (Jansen Records) Arriving fully formed it seems, Bergen based dream pop outfit Chain Wallet issued their none-too-shabby eponymous debut LP in 2016. Signed to notable Norwegian label Jansen, information about the trio is scarce, their resurfacing annouced with a lo-fi video for excellent lead single Ride appearing last September.

Retaining the principal elements of their debut, the opalescent guitar lines and shoegazing textures remain, with a greater emphasis on vocal hooks and a sharper focus throughout. Keeping a watchful eye on the running times, No Ritual’s ten-tracks cross the finish line in under thirty-two minutes.

Describing Bergen as ‘their rainy hometown’, the drizzle clearly has the effect of imbuing bands with uplifting/melancholy melodicism as New Order from perma-sodden Manchester and the subtle, deep rooted melodies of The Blue Nile, both of whom seem to be influences here, prove. Boosted by harmonies with the arrival of the choruses, Final Testament and the aforementioned Ride are superlative dream pop confections, while Knowing Eyes suggests Wild Nothing have some serious competition.

What Everybody Else Could Find piloted by a melodic bassline and rueful lyrics “Can’t go on forever / Reached the point of no return / Friends of ours are moving on” marries a despondent theme to upbeat, opulent synth pop. Introducing a welcome variation in feeling and tempo with boy-girl duet Closer is a stylistic development, while brief instrumental Liminality is scored with chilly, OMD-style synths.

The title track is wonderful, aerated synth pop, while the verses of World I Used To Call Mine take on a darker hue, demonstrating that the lyrical spikiness of their debut remains “You asked me who my soul belongs to / Truth be told I never care”. Building on the promise their debut LP showcased, this particular ritual is one well worth going through the initiation ceremony for. 4/5