Chad Valley - Young Hunger
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Record Label: Cascine
Hailing from Oxford, UK, Chad Valley has friends in high places. The track listing of the electro-pop/chillwave/call it what you will artist’s debut album, Young Hunger, reads somewhat like an ‘alt- electronica’ phonebook, with appearances from Twin Shadow, Glasser and Fixers’ Jack Goldstein, to name a few. No stranger to hype, Young Hunger is not just a chance for Chad Valley (aka Hugo Manuel) to show off his ultra-cool friends, but it is also his chance to either live up to all of the premature acclaim and hype that has been heaped on his shoulders or do as so many other British artists have done recently and burn out before his star has had the chance to rise.
Young Hunger is eleven tracks of pleasant, if not spectacular, polished electro-pop. Each track is reliant on synthesizers and autotune. The pomp and over the top atmosphere of the record shows 80s pop is clearly an influence on Manuel. His vocals are attractively smooth, something Manuel is certainly aware of, with the album providing plentiful opportunities for him to display his somewhat impressive range. The record is packed with the sort of choruses and beats that, I imagine, would be the soundtrack to an Ibiza for hipsters. Tracks such as “Tell All Your Friends” and the title track are shiny and infectious enough to rival the likes of Lady GaGa and her ilk in terms of saleability. The former’s falsetto chorus and repetitive but fresh beat, makes it perfect the music to shake your slip-ons to and it’s as catchy as they come. It’s on tracks like this where Chad Valley is at his best, when he creates light hearted dance music which is self-aware enough to know where the line is between terrible pop music and a summer soundtrack.
Where Young Hunger fails however, is when the 80s cheese goes beyond the call of nostalgic re-invention. The Jack Goldstein featuring “My Girl” is terrible. Honestly terrible. The chorus ('if you wanna be my girl/ you gotta get with my friends’ , hopefully an ‘ironic’ reference to Spice Girls, otherwise, I have to worry about Chad Valley’s lyrical skills) makes even Taio Cruz seem subtle and it’s just a bit awkward within the record. Whilst he could be forgiven if this sort of misstep was a once off, it appears that too much of Young Hunger is veering over the edge of cheese pop and although this could be a suitable career path for many musicians, Chad Valley has too much of an obscure edge to his music for him to truly succeed with the mainstream pop audience.
Overall, Young Hunger is the sound of an artist spreading himself too thin. With less indecision and more focus on one particular audience, Chad Valley could easily carve a niche for himself, whether it be within the indie world or the pop world, however at the moment he certainly isn’t proving the critics right. If you’re looking for a somewhat ‘off the wall’ party album, Young Hunger is perfect, however for anything else, it lacks the finesse for Chad Valley to reach the heights of his famous friends. His sophomore release shall be extremely interesting.
I couldn't disagree more that 'my girl' is terrible. True, the lyrics might make some shudder but I feel it's all very lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek a la Discovery. The beat and the groove to the song make it such a pleasurable experience and, as you have noted throughout the album, the vocals are great.
I personally love this album so far. And I have to say, live, chad valley is something else as long as you get lost in the music and I'm looking forward to seeing him again with trophy wife in a couple weeks.
I see it as sugary dance-pop done the way it should be. Cheese doesn't have to have a lack of musical imagination.