Chamberlin's "Look What I've Become"
- Article by: Jon O'Brien
- Posted: 09/06/2012
To say that Vermont quartet Chamberlin have been through the mill since the release of their 2011 debut, Bitter Blood, is something of an understatement.
After the long-time friends spent most of their gruelling year-long tour either bickering or not speaking to each other at all, frontman Mark Daly and guitarist Ethan West decided to ditch the rest of the band, travel to Nashville and hook up with producer Luke Reynolds (Guster, Blue Merle) to record their second EP entirely by themselves.
It’s a decision which appears to have haunted the pair ever since, judging by the regretful nature of Look What I’ve Become, a collection of songs about “jealousy, despair and resentment,” which just as much resembles a particularly confessional therapy session.
The duo may feel remorseful about the way they dealt with their intra-band tensions. But at least they’ve managed to channel this guilt into producing a compelling and gripping record, particularly on the track that most explicitly addresses their issues, “Jealousy,” which builds its melancholic alt-folk sound up to an appropriately frazzled zenith.
But even ignoring its backstory, Look What I’ve Become still enthrals. Opener “Thief” begins with an eerie sci-fi intro before a wall of tumbling beats and shimmering steel guitars help create a unique R&B-tinged slice of Americana. Daly’s ability to glide from soaring falsetto to whisky-soaked troubadour is best showcased on the delicate Bon Iver-esque acoustics of “Maryland.” There’s even a dash of funk amongst the autumnal harmonies and jangly riffs of closer “Block It Out.”
Chamberlin have since patched up their differences after reconvening at the same mountainside wood cabin they formed in. But if Look What I’ve Become is the result of such disharmony, they may want to open up their old wounds the next time they venture into the studio.