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Burn Your Town
The Chapman Family Burn Your Town

Released 4 March 2011
Producer Richard Jackson
Label PIAS/Electric Toaster
Length 48:57
Genre Alternative, indie rock
Website myspace.com/thechapmanfamily
30

Burn Your Town the debut album by The Chapman Family has been a couple of years in the making since their initial exposure on the NME Radar tour. They have touted the album in the press as an “alternative Pet Sounds”; a grand claim, conjuring up ideas of something grandiose and life changing and building a lot of expectations. The Chapman Family are not short of wild claims in general, also claiming to have formed out of boredom with a scene they perceived as mired with Peter Doherty copyists, pork pie hats and pontification. All this considered, it’s reasonable to expect a little innovation to back up the posturing.

Even if the band’s claims weren’t so transparent, it becomes evident after minutes that it’s either naivety or stupidity. What The Chapman Family achieve in cockiness doesn’t run parallel to their talent. The bravado exists to cloak their inadequacies, not a new angle for the band. Frontman Kingsley has been outspoken in the past about his disdain for The X Factor, and Fearne Cotton among others. Revolutionary stuff indeed.

This opinion on The X Factor is particularly hilarious given the negligible difference between this band and the talent from that show. Slightly more subtle marketing with the Chapman boys, but it’s marketing nonetheless; they’re selling disdain and teenage rebellion, in their H & M wardrobes. Even the title reeks of being marketed to dissatisfied teenagers, “burn your town”, because “the kids are not alright”, and the parents, don’t like, understand.

As for the album, let us start with the positives, as there are few. The production is solid and the band can play. Some of the songs are almost praiseworthy; 'Anxiety' wouldn’t be out of place on Phantom’s playlist, but the over-simplicity of the lyrics hinder it from becoming a good track. It’s followed by 'The Sound of the Radio', although it’s unclear when 'Anxiety' finishes and 'The Sound of the Radio' begins– in fact, the whole album sounds really similar, songs just roll into the next ones with no real definable end. Three singles have already been released, and the final track is a version of a fourth. 'Kids', is the earliest, dating all the way back to 2009. Easily the worst track on the album, this horrendous attempt at anger and dissatisfaction is comical, I laughed out loud on first hearing it. After 'Kids', there is 'Million Dollars', one of the better tracks, but again, oversimplification rears its ugly head with the priceless chant of "I feel like a million dollars, I feel like a million more".

'Million Dollars' isn’t a one off, and the real horror here is the lyrics, referencing to a “Hollywood bungalow”. Plagiarism or homage? Who cares? Perhaps most fittingly, on the aforementioned 'Anxiety', Kingsley cries, "they say your best isn't good enough". Well if this is it, I’m afraid they were right lads. A strong production can’t save what is a mediocre album, by a band that believe their own hype, but in reality are about as subverted as Busted. Suzi Rotolo, Bob Dylan’s late muse once said "We had something to say, not something to sell"; think the opposite and you have an idea what The Chapman Family are about.

- Ray Burke