Church of Betty’s latest album, Swirled World is equal parts Power-Pop, World Music and Radiohead detours in adventurous musical endeavors. Those descriptions might seem a little ridiculous until you actually listen to the record, which is filled with shimmering melodies, and odd-time signatures. The use of the Sitar as the main melodic instrument on the melodic “I Remember You” is particularly riveting.
Too often, bands use a collage of sounds as a crutch, leaning on sounds to make their music sound interesting at the expense of, things called actual songs. Not so on Swirled World. Church of Betty mastermind Chris Rael’s songs are laser-sharp in execution and performance, particularly on the folk-pop gem “Beautiful Vessel”, the psychedelic touches of opener “Wake Up” and the amusing “Brooklyn Soul”, which is a love-letter to the borough in the vein of Walt Whitman.
Like Sufjan Stevens Rael layers even his straight-ahead songs with sonic details that come in and out like violins, horns and various instruments. Like a good painter, these are just extra colors made with broad strokes that add to the over-all experience. The title track and “Brooklyn Soul” particularly benefit from such an approach.
At times it seems like Rael spent a great amount of time listening to latter day Talking Heads records (which isn’t surprisingly since he has worked with David Byrne) trying to emulate the famed band’s explorations into world-pop. Not that that’s a bad thing: who wouldn’t want to try and sound like the Talking Heads?
Check out the video for “Brooklyn Soul” below.
For more information on Chris Rael and Church of Betty, check out his web-site.