In the near future, when algorithms have feelings, they will write all our music. When they try to write pop music that sounds like it was made by talented Europeans in 2018, it might sound something like Digital Technology, the seventh full-length album by The Chap, recorded and produced by the band in London and Berlin over the past three years.
Following 2015’s The Show Must Go - The Chap’s foray into the world of the political rock song – Digital Technology is arguably the band’s most beautiful album to date, exploring abysses both personal and de-personalised, looking inward or into vast open space rather than onto a concrete political arena.
Closing track Don’t say it like that, repeating its title phrase over and over while a techno beat pounds and easy synth arpeggios dissolve into sad ambience, could be viewed from different perspectives: a couple arguing, a parent reprimanding a child, a social media comment on hate speech.
Bring your dolphin, on the other hand, is a mildly surreal and melancholy pop song about dolphins, romance and world-weariness, yet the band insist it contains a death penalty reference.
So, beneath lush ambiences lurks darkness, and in violent disintegration lies beautiful fun. Pea shore is fast but dreamy. It claims that “poetry is not for me in your face”. I am the emotion takes to heart The Chap’s early mission statement of seeking to create music that “sounds wrong”: a kind of wordy world-techno-pop anthem about emotional emancipation, sung by grandad after he just discovered autotune. Classic Chap! As are nightmare disco anthems like Merch, I recommend you do the same or Toothless fuckface.
But elsewhere, the algorhithm shows a more conciliatory side: ”Help mother/ with her stuff”, it implores on Help mother. And it truly nails existential futility on Hard.
It’s impossible not to get sucked into Digital Technology. Like its title, it sounds and feels like an outdated promise, a contemporary anxiety and a really weird future – almost like the outlook of a teenager. You know, back when confusion and sadness were still a lot of fun.