Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
There seem to be some things that Chapel Club lead singer Lewis Bowman wants most. They seem to be easy to obtain and yet they're elusive - making them extremely difficult to obtain, as reasoning would then have to go. They are out of grasp and somewhat mysteriously composed. One could walk through them, never touching them, not feeling a thing, but a little cooler version of the air. The ambitions that are formed through some of the London-based group's songs are put forth like some quiet and pensive scenes from a Sophia Coppola or David Lynch film - some things that moves to their own heartbeats, some things that happen before you with an illustriously somber mood.
The natural sounds of people moving against the surface are more pronounced - the sole of a shoe striking the crushed rocks of the ground, punctuating the night like a shotgun blast, the exhaling of breath as harsh as the ripping of a piece of paper in a sleeping house. These are sharpened nights and blinding days, the kinds that sound most appetizing, though the ones bemoaned are those that are occupied with all of the intrusions of daily life, the clutter and the bullshit.
Bowman seems to want the chance to just run off, under the cover of a night, cut all ties and find a way to just live off the land, with a little help from the tobacco companies, if he wanted to be perfectly honest. He sings on "Fine Light," "Hooray for late nights and cigarettes/Let's stay awake and carry on the fight and act as if there were no darkness to surround us, no questions to confound us/No fear tonight, my friends, and no regrets/All I want to make out/All I want to see/Are lights across the hilltops/Lights above the sea/Fine the light that wakes you from that other sleep/Fine the light that lights your dive into the deep/Makes you feel right, don't it?/To lie here and know that you own this moment."
The scenes that Chapel Club erect are those of people awash with the atrocities of what they've been forced to make of their lives, what they've been prodded into living with despite all reluctance to do so. There's some unquestionable pull toward the outer reaches, perhaps where we're always secretly pulled, even if we're not able to commit. Bowman gives us a sense of clearer thoughts, when he sings about night breezes and "bodies swinging in the sycamore trees."
He dreams of vast, open skies which, upon looking at them you can feel smaller and mortal and still more in control of the little things, more calm. Pine trees are thought about on "After The Flood," as Bowman sings, "I remember coming out of that tunnel mouth, seeing high land and low water spring and sink before us/The pines hung like reconsidered suicides from the red palms of mountainsides - preserved, as Orion was preserved in stars." He's a gazer and a man with sweeping thoughts about getting his legs out of the steel traps he's got them in. Maybe the fights would cease, or slow down if he changed his setting. There's a hope for it. For now, he's got the cigarettes and the fights, going through them in a place that smells more like skin and garbage, not dirt and silence.
*Essay originally published September, 2011