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Album Review: Champs – Down Like Gold

2 min read

Like a Welsh version of Death Cab for Cutie with a tinge of Alt-J, Indie Folk artists Champs live up to their band’s name. The brother-duo’s debut album Down like Gold was recorded in an old water tower, which serves to effortlessly accentuate their hauntingly beautiful voices with echoes and bellows in all the right places.

Champs-DownLikeGoldPretty much (since last November) is a perfect example of how the large infrastructure acoustics are able to replicate the two voices into a choir of sadness about the heart pulling and door closing involved in break-ups, making them sound like a bunch of broken-hearted ghosts haunting the tower. The simplistic tambourine, with the slow guitar and drum chime in to animate their voices and accentuate their solemn experience. Like Lennon without the Beatles, the brothers lose momentum once separated. While Too Bright to Shine or White Satellite remain songs worthy of listening to on long train trips while daydreaming out the window, they only become truly memorable when they become duets.

Spirit is Broken is the EP from the album, and while it’s certainly more of a jam than depressingly melancholic songs like St Peters, the vocals are more of a battle than a duo, with both attempting to outshine the other. The brothers’ tones simply work more effectively together on more sombre tracks when they’re a little less Indie and a little more Folk. While St Peters is far from the peppiest song, it’s use of only duel vocals and a slow guitar beat is so raw that it’s able to evoke the album’s theme of heartbreak much more vividly than any other songs, while never being blatant about it like the rest are.

While the album may turn you into an emotional wreck by the end, it proves well worth the turmoil, and gives a sense of optimism in the idea that the worse your relationship woes are, the more potential you have to make for a fantastic Indie Folk album.