Chief’s “Modern Rituals”

“Ultimately, Modern Rituals feels hollow, like a ritual the band is only half-heartedly following through with.” -EB

Guest Writer

out of 10

Modern Rituals
August 16, 2010
Domino Record Co

I’m inclined to think I’d have a fundamentally different opinion of Chief’s debut record Modern Rituals were the album itself just a few songs shorter. Modern Rituals starts off with a few moderately interesting, vaguely folky indie rock offerings and continues well past the time it’s worn out its welcome. None of the songs are particularly bad, but none are particularly memorable, either. The long and short of it is that Chief commits the most serious sin any band is capable of: they’re boring.

There’s nothing technically wrong with Chief on their debut. The problem is that it’s painfully obvious that this is, in fact, the band’s first offering. Because while they make no obvious flaws, the record contains no sour notes, and it’s obvious that the band knows how to play their instruments, it takes much, much more than technical proficiency to craft a good record.

Ultimately, Modern Rituals feels hollow, like a ritual the band is only half-heartedly following through with. I don’t hear any passion behind the band, whether it’s on alt-country inspired tracks like “Summers Day” or on more straightforward rockers such as “Nothing’s Wrong.” It’s all just bland approximations of sounds other acts have pioneered years before. I simply can’t find any distinctly original sound on Modern Rituals, and for all the various genres they play around with, they don’t make any of it their own.

I’ve seen bands like this hundred times before, opening for my friends at a local show, or inexplicably supporting an act I love. They’re just sort of there. They come in, play their songs, and leave without making any lasting impression on the audience.

Unless Chief drastically improves, they’ll be relegated to the land of forgotten bands, that place where formet fans forget they over owned the group’s records as soon as the already-thin hooks begin to get boring (which won’t take long at all in Chief’s case). To be perfectly honest, I’ll have forgotten that Chief exists by this time tomorrow.

Like I said, though, this is a debut that sounds like a debut. The band hasn’t been around very long, and I’m betting they just haven’t had a chance to stretch their legs and explore their sound adequately. While this record isn’t worth too much of your time, I’m willing to bet that after a few tours and maybe some songwriting lessons, the band will be a lot stronger the next time they enter a studio.