Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Grian Chatten – Chaos for the Fly Review

Chaos for flies is usually contained in cans of Raid but for Grian Chatten, the Fontaines frontman now pursuing a solo career also, it comes in the form of intimate recollections. Recollections of summer looks and nicely-wielded bass guitars swing through Chaos for the Fly, a demanding and storied debut piece for the man breaking off from a darling indie group. He knows the score and plants it firmly on The Score, Chatten’s storming and sincere opening track which guides listeners through his nine-track offering. Knowing looks are the game Chatten plays and he charts it comfortably. Rising acoustics and the fresh sincerity which flows through this piece is as inviting as expected for a songwriter with plenty to prove. 

Doing so throughout Chaos for the Fly, the adaptations made for string sections which feel neither hopeful nor sinister, gives Chatten a chance to work his style a world away from the band. There are flickers of Skinty Fia album material. Last Time Every Time Forever flirts with it before bringing in backing vocals and a swaying acoustic tenderness to Fairlies. Chatten is single-handedly bringing back the faith and hope of acoustic material in the modern spots where Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers once tried to bury it. Clutching to the chipper tones of acoustic cautious serendipity shines new light on Chatten’s experiences and notes of crowded rooms and empty feelings. It soon explodes, the gravity of violent strings and acoustic tenderness tipped on its head as though Nick Cave and Warren Ellis were at odds on stage. Chaos for the Fly soon grows from there. 

From the baroque and showy Bob’s Casino to the gutsy and swaggering thoughtfulness which precedes it, Chaos for the Fly has a confident tone carried throughout. Chatten has a theme in mind, and it is refreshing to feel carried out on a longer-form journey than the staggered and often unrewarding nest of singles and spare parts which have made up more than a few releases this year. Chaos for the Fly feels dedicated to a narrative, a delicacy which spreads across its whole work. Lopsided fears on All Of The People air a heartbreaking distrust of just about everyone but it flows nicely over a heavy piano style befitting of this softer, crooner-like approach. Chatten is keen to invite listeners into the intimate portions which glide through with a shocking level of honesty, as East Coast Bed provides. 

Should Chatten hope to work around his thoughts and concerns, he does so intimately and successfully with a storming debut piece. He has already earned his stars and stripes with the longevity in Fontaines D.C., but Chaos for the Fly far exceeds the efforts of the band so far. This is, as album closer Season For Pain echoes, a period of suffering. But with the soft-yet-assured harmonica on preceding track I Am So Far, the in-touch lyricisms and wit of a tremendous writer and the inflictions of hope and terror in equal measure, comes one of the more honest albums of the last decade. Pure and open to its listeners, not asking for reciprocation of meaning and message but welcoming it nonetheless. This is not the season for love, and even if the sun bursts through, bubbling the desires of those listening in, Chatten has brought a coldness and lush frigidness to the clear skies and usual warmth.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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