Bad sugar, heartache and Nordic voyages abound on The Chills’ newest album

Dunedin rockers The Chills are back with another stellar release, and it does not fall short of its ambitions.

The Chills’ music is usually characterised by a high standard of musicianship across all its members, a prerequisite of Martin Phillips’ in his quest to realise his vision of globalising “quality, original NZ-sounding melodic rock music.”

the chills

The Chills ruminate on the cosmic nature of living, tell tales of treasures from far away lands, and confront human trauma on their latest release Snow Bound.

We’re swept up in a whimsical world when Bad Sugar opens with a pretty slide guitar and delicate synths. Phillips walks us through the start of civilisation and how people interact with their surroundings.

The mid-tempo Time To Atone is characterised by strong melodic hooks guided by Phillips’ lucid vocals.  Sometimes “we make mistakes and we cause heartache,” he sings jovially over simple, bright guitar chords and an energetic drum rhythm. 

The Greatest Guide sounds like the soundtrack to a Nordic voyage through time. It has an edgier, electrified sound as Phillips tells us tales about explorers who would journey to foreign lands and return with a bounty of treasures.

Then the album gives way to the pub-rock sounding Scarred – this is one that’ll get your feet thumping away with its dense guitars and 80s-sounding synths, as Phillips sings about protecting himself from danger because of past trauma.

Complex runs on a more cosmic theme, a reminder that we’re simply a speck in the universe brought home with an infectious chorus that you’ll be singing all day.

“I’m not the man you think I am, I’m a complex piece of the plan”

Deep Belief opens with gentle bells that pull you into an atmosphere of more unusual rhythmic and melodic patterns, underlined by a tender string and horn section. Those things that we hide from will find us eventually, and sometimes, certain incidents will cause us to question our deepest beliefs.

A gritty, distorted guitar opens Lord of All I Survey, as Phillips revisits painful memories.

The edgier Snow Bound tells the story of being trapped in a place we don’t like and want to get out of, whether that be physically in a city we can’t stand or mentally with beliefs you can’t get out of your head.

Eazy Peazy oscillates between lighter sections and slightly deeper, inquisitive lyrics, made seamless by the underlying string section.

As you get older, Phillips ruminates, you learn to come to terms with the fact that some days are blissfully, beautifully easy, while others can be so hard to get through that you feel like you’re trying to move a mountain.

In Harmony closes the album on a more optimistic note, a warm reminder that despite all our hardships, we are all in this together. The song is more upbeat, characterised by an energetic rhythm section and synth hook that floats in and out of the foreground during the chorus.

In all, every song on Snow Bound is characterised by top notch production, solid musicianship and lyrical flair – The Chills do not disappoint or fall short of their goals on their new album.


Snow Bound is available now on all streaming platforms.