REVIEW: Erik Chandler – Writing the Wrongs

erik chandler promo

Artist: Erik Chandler
Album: Writing the Wrongs EP
Genre: Rock/pop
Label: Brando Records

Following in the footsteps of fellow Bowling for Soup cohort Jaret Reddick, Erik Chandler and his band, the Mulberry Street Socialites, have released their Writing the Wrongs EP. It’s a very short, four-song album that conveys a heady swathe of influences and a fondness for textured songwriting. It’s very good in most respects and displays a nimble ability to sheathe a solid emotional core with more frivolous, light-hearted music. Its shortness stands against it however – the tracks show some divergence in style but miss the clarity of a full-length, as they can sometimes seem like footnotes to an idea that has yet to be fully explored. Nonetheless, this is a promising, rejuvenating start.

“Tonight’s the Night” is an intriguing offering that showcases both Chandler’s flair for mixing genres and his nuanced use of mood. It’s mostly quite poppy, with trimmings of rock and cheekier samples helping to invigorate the writing. It seems these styles are used to both reflect and shield the varying tone in which he sings, as there is something more harrowed and vacant lingering at the heart of the song. This makes for a curiously thought-provoking listen, as its steely rhythm keeps it fresh and lively yet the listener is constantly aware of something deeper in the words.

“Push the Pedal” is also, ostensibly, vivacious and alive but it too buries something bittersweet in its make-up. The vocals seem blank but betray a trembling sense of sadness or unease; entirely at odds with the continuous bursts of guitar and bass. The momentum is relentless and steady but it seems as though Chandler is constantly pausing for reflection. This is further evidenced in “Hold It Together.” He seems to be particularly adept at burying the feelings of his songs behind a myriad of sprawling, eager guitars and pounding drums while allowing something of their genesis to seep through in his vocals. It’s well-executed, if not entirely mind-blowing, and mostly leaves one eager to see what concepts might be explored in a longer album.

“Malibu Classic” is the oddball on the EP as it is overtly joyous instead of feigning spirit. There are boisterous backing vocals and its short, snappy notes seem to celebrate frivolity. It is, happily, more simplistic and clear than some of the other songs, indicating that not all their music might come mixed in shades of grey. The latter do much for contemplation but this track also ensures there’s plenty of undemanding, feelgood vibes to be found in Chandler’s work.

At risk of making an unfair comparison, Chandler’s efforts with this EP are far more commendable than Reddick’s work with People on Vacation. There’s a story aching to be told here, and the thoughtful stance he’s taken with his music is impressive. A full-length will test this and hopefully explore these ideas more fully, but in the meantime Writing the Wrongs is good, honest, and encouraging.

SCORE: 8/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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