Stills from the Down Like Gold video #water #underwater #pool #swimmingpool #blue #heavens
Champs - Spirit Is Broken EP
Play It Again Sam - 19 August 2013
I really don’t know where to start with Champs, this is an artist that is too exciting for me in many aspects. The EP hits me in the same way as Sun Giant (Fleet Foxes), Blue Room (Coldplay) and Recordings Of The Middle East (The Middle East) in that it displays so much potential for things to come. If you add the splendour of earlier single ‘St Peters’ into the mix, you’ll realise that this is a songwriting duo to be reckoned with.
Despite their relatively modest years, brothers Michael and David Champion are experienced in their art, as it would seem making music has always been their raison d’être. The result is a selection of sophisticated songs that have been brought to life with the help of production from the like minded people at Studio Humbug and musicians who must’ve truly understood the vision of Champs for something as distinctive as their Spirit Is Broken EP to spawn.
It begins with a tale of mixed emotions: “When the cold of the night only tears you apart / and the light of the stars only tell you its dark / I’ll always be calling, always be calling your name” the boys sing. ‘My Spirit Is Broken’ is a song of contradictions, with these melancholy lyrics wrapped in jangling guitar hooks and upbeat drums, and beautiful harmonies whistling like wind over cliff edges.
This is followed by ‘Down Like Gold’, the song of an unfulfilled love shrouded in mystery and living on only in dreams, an opportunity never to return: “…travelling through all the in-betweens. Threading needles through the stars with the strongest arrows, spinning through the dark suburban sky, down where the rivers meet the oceans when you died.” This atmosphere is yet again matched by the music with acoustic guitar and gentle hand beaten drums tying the song to the ocean but dark organ chords and choir-like vocals giving a sense of music in a small village church with high roofs and weather beaten stone walls.
The EP closes with a farewell chorus, an acceptance of some finality, “Walk out the door, we’re not talking anymore.” A drum comes in with such fervour you know someone, somewhere was beating that skin with all their might; and a guitar pre-empts the return of the melody: “You’ve been tugging my heart, pretty much since last November.” All aspects of the Champs’ sound join together in unison for one final time and mark a sense of release that disappears into the ether with a twinkling organ sound. The EP feels complete and yet, there is still so much to come from Champs.
You can download the EP now from http://champsofficial.com
The video (filmed by Henry Edwards Wood [partly on skateboard]) for the title track shows the brothers running through Ventnor: a seaside town on the island held back in time; jumping in swimming pools and dropping ice cream. Champs will be playing live as part of the Ventnor Fringe Festival in mid-August. See http://vfringe.co.uk for more details.
“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my lids and all is born again. (I think I made you up inside my head.) The stars go waltzing out in blue and red, And arbitrary blackness gallops in: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane. (I think I made you up inside my head.) God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade: Exit seraphim and Satan’s men: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. I fancied you’d return the way you said, But I grow old and I forget your name. (I think I made you up inside my head.) I should have loved a thunderbird instead; At least when spring comes they roar back again. I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. (I think I made you up inside my head.)”