A trend exists music writing in which critics marvel that the band in question has somehow managed to cram [number] of songs into [number] minutes. In most cases, this trope works to describe said album as a highly enjoyable work that can be ingested within a short drive (meaning 15 to 20 minutes). This was certainly said about Literature’s debut album Arab Spring, where each tireless tune averaged around two minutes.
But the Philly via Austin foursome has learned to indulge a little more. Their sophomore album, Chorus, is significantly more diverse than Arab Spring, though most songs do evoke a serious sense of 60s nostalgia and 80s English indiepop. Literature does not sound like they are simply parroting the classics. They make each tune their own, mixing the poppy energy that permeated Arab Spring with a hazy dreaminess, creating the illusion of a (barely) longer album.
The balance between jangley indiepop and soaring melodies creates the most upbeat moments on Chorus, many of which are found in the first half of the album. First track, “The Girl, The Gold Watch” begins where Arab Spring ended, with a joyful woo! and an infectious guitar riff. But “The English Softhearts” is the first real indication that Chorus is not just a cleaner lo-fi record. The song is a lush collage of lighthearted whimsy and soft reassurance, and it just feels flat out refreshing.
While many of the more fast-paced moments appear in the first half of the record, the album is front loaded. Instead, as the album progresses, these moments begin to effortlessly mix with dreamy sighs, most notably on “Chime Hours.” “Chime Hours” is initially a gentle 80stinged jam that brings to mind a hip wedding song, but as it progresses, the vocals grow stronger causing Literature to sound more seductive than ever. Title track, “Chorus” kicks in a return to straightforward jangle pop, complete with gorgeous female vocals. The song is one of the most powerful on the record, and one that begs to be played on repeat. “Chorus” is uncharted territory for Literature, with no kin to the debut, Arab Spring, but so does most everything on Chorus.
As mentioned earlier, Chorus is really best described as a sonic collage, the concept evident from the album artwork. Literature favor floral motifs. The album artwork for Arab Spring displayed four neon flowers in a Warholian pop art style: bright, upbeat, consistency. Each track could stand alone. Chorus is a collage of flowers, faces, and textures: Chorus is varied and full, bursting with luscious sounds and romanticism. The songs work best as a unit because the album is so wonderfully cohesive, allowing Literature to take you on a journey full of surprises.