wed 24/04/2024

CD: Chungking - Defender | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Chungking - Defender

CD: Chungking - Defender

Welcome comeback from absentee south coast contenders

Chungking singer Jessie Banks rising back out of the darkness

Chungking are Brighton's great could-have-should-have band. Appearing around a decade ago the trio, enigmatically fronted by singer Jessie Banks, offered up an opulent alternative take on the whole indie-dance thing. Songs such as “Stay Up Forever” had irresistible, hedonic punch but the band were equally capable of channelling a delicacy that recalled The Carpenters at their most melancholy. They seemed to be on the cusp of hugeness.

They were, after all, potentially accessible to a wide pop audience at the same time as appealing to clubland connoisseurs.

The cusp, however, was where they stayed, cropping up on various US TV show soundtracks and then going quiet. Their return with a third album, eight years after their last one, is welcome. It’s jammed with protective love songs and a certain sadness but is far from morose. Banks’s voice, backed by the orchestrated electronic arrangements of Sean Hennessey and Ben Townshend, is at the heart of it, running the gamut from coquette to ethereal flight, always gossamer sweet.

Defender is an album of two thirds. It opens strongly with the Morricone-esque builder “The Odyssey Part 1” and the lovely strummed love song “Beautiful World”, then it slumps to a mid-section that’s rather forgettable, a funk-inflected suite of tunes, summed up by “Stand By Me”, a stab at something obviously catchy that fails to convince. Those who stay the course, however, will be rewarded. The final four songs are the album’s true highlights, pared-back wispy numbers that play to the band’s maturity and point a direction for the future, The single “Sapphire” recalls Lana del Rey but is very much its own creature, “Johnny” is an impeccable sliver of songwriting and the gently strummed “Colours Red” blossoms into a piece the young Kate Bush might have been proud of. It is to be hoped Chungking build on this likeable return and do not disappear for another decade.

Overleaf: Watch the video for "Sapphire"

Jammed with protective love songs and a certain sadness but far from morose


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters