Chad Valley: The Last Days Of Summer
Hugo Manuel is from the U.K., but his latest music seems better suited for sandy beaches. Manuel leads the indie-rock quintet Jonquil, but he also makes electronic music on the side.
Equatorial Ultravox is his latest album as Chad Valley, and its mellow beats and washed-out vocals sound lush and captivating, but one song stands out among the rest for its infectious instrumental hook. The steel-drum melody of "Now That I'm Real (How Does It Feel?)" blends seamlessly with Manuel's lead synth, in the process conjuring images of ice-cold drinks and miniature umbrellas. The beat is perfect for the last days of summer — steady and relaxed.
Guest vocalist Rose Dagul almost steals the song with her authentic '80s aesthetic, as she and Manuel exchange lines about a once-thriving relationship at its accepted conclusion. Of the past, he sings, "I knew this kid that wanted to find himself in your arms." The song may end in shimmering harmonies and exuberant exclamations, but Dagul's final words are telling: "In the end, we timed the finish / and we timed it oh-so-well."
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