Ever have that band everyone else likes but you just don’t “get”? For whatever reason with certain artists, the hype around them simply doesn’t make sense to me, and sometimes that is precisely what keeps me from giving them a fair shot. Up until just recently Chase Atlantic was one of those bands for me. Even though the alt-pop trio has been steadily churning out tunes since even before their viral 2015 hit “Friends,” it wasn’t until a little while back when I first listened to the Aussies’ album PHASES on a whim, and that changed.
The first aspect of PHASES that immediately captures my attention is the often ethereal, water-like effects throughout Chase Atlantic’s sophomore LP. These soundscapes encompass a recurring theme that finds its way into every corner of the record, present everywhere from the spacey “INTRO” to the chilling “TOO LATE” to the bouncier, more trap-influenced cuts such as “LOVE IS (NOT) EASY.” It adds a certain atmosphere to the album that makes the listener feel like they’re traveling through outer space. This sort of sonic ebb and flow is an unlikely complement that actually fits right in with the hard-hitting trap beats present on the majority of the album’s tracks, including singles “HER” and “STUCKINMYBRAIN,” but perhaps most noticeable on standout “NO RAINBOWS.”
Of course, this isn’t the only reason why “NO RAINBOWS” stands out as much as it does. After all, if it wasn’t for the vocal tradeoffs and the smooth, sultry saxophone prominent throughout, I’m not entirely confident that I would have enjoyed it as much as I do. It makes perfect sense then when considering the album’s other standout, which is its next track “HEAVEN AND BACK,” a funky electropop banger that is heavily laden with synths and boasts a nasty sax lick on its bridge. Consequently, “HEAVEN AND BACK” feels very 1980s-esque, and with other cuts like “I NEVER EXISTED,” the sax-ridden grove of “ANGELS,” and particularly the intro of “EVEN THOUGH I’M DEPRESSED,” it’s not the only one from PHASES like this either.
Simultaneously bouncy, flowy, and atmospheric, the sophomore effort from Chase Atlantic is like if The Weeknd decided to front a jazzy pop band that performed in space. PHASES is right at the crossroads of R&B and indie pop. It’s unique, vibey and just retro enough to feel nostalgic, all while still staying fresh. If that’s not enough to get you to take a listen, I’m not sure what is.