Chappaqua Wrestling - Plus Ultra (EMI) 

Release Date: Out Now

Chappaqua Wrestling are one of the hottest properties of 2023 and this, their debut album, is one of my tips for album of the year – just wanted to get that out of the way straight away. ‘Plus Ultra’ might sound like a marketing ploy for the new Gillette Mach 3 razor but this isn’t a concept album about grooming but more a commentary on where society is right now and that is a massive relief. The album kicks off with early single ‘Full Round Table’ which is a perfect opening track with its offbeat bass line and clarion call vocal that illuminates the bleak shadows of a country who can’t afford to turn the lights on anymore. ‘Wayfinding’ pings and bounces like a one-man mosh pit in a venue that nobody can afford to go to but there is joy in the darkness and that’s the secret to this album.

On ‘Kulture’ the drums emerge from the distortion like a clash between My Vitriol and Duran Duran full of aggression and style while ‘Need You No More’ has a breezier chug that marks this one out as a live favourite with the singalong chorus and Oasis sized riffs. The slow and gentle chug of the opening bars of ‘Wide Asleep’ provide a monetary respite until the build begins and the song grows into an altogether more ominous beast with the repeated lyric “Just worry about your present then your future’s fine”. ‘Fair Game’ swirls and chugs with a strong shoegaze energy before ‘Opaque’ revisits that Manchester sound but infused with West Coast melodies that give this a Redd Kross vibe which I am very much here for.

‘Not In Love’ is perhaps the morose track on the album with elements of the Cure and Belle & Sebastian creeping in between the shared vocal duties and sparse mix but essentially this is an adorable pop song once the fog clears. My favourite of the non-single tracks is ‘My Fall’ which soars and flails with ambition before slowly morphing in to ‘My Fall II’ which is altogether more atmospheric but still a continuation of the original melody and shows a band really only at the edge of what they can achieve creatively and sonically. This debut album rolls to a stop with ‘Can I Trick’ which is an introspective late-night meander with hints of Edwyn Collins before it comes into the station with one last heave. Just shy of 40 minutes, 11 tracks and an emotionally charged rollercoaster full of melodies, hooks and lyrics that will make you think, smile and cry. Not bad for any album but for a debut offering this is off the charts. Bravo Chappaqua Wrestling, bravo indeed.

More information:

Live Dates: 

Tue 16 May Heartbreakers, Southampton, UKWed 17 May PowerHaus (formerly Dingwalls), London, UKThu 18 May Jericho Tavern, Oxford, UKFri 19 May The Portland Arms, Cambridge, UKSat 20 May Voodoo Daddys, Norwich, UKMon 22 May The Louisiana, Bristol, UKTue 23 May The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, UKWed 24 May The Bodega Social Club, Nottingham, UKThu 25 May Oporto, Leeds, UK [SOLD OUT]Fri 26 May The Garage, Glasgow, UK