Shimmer and Spin by Chorusgirl is an album that overcame the odds. Due for release on 16 November via Reckless Yes, their second full-length chronicles a tense year, created during a period of crippling anxiety and a relentless string of bad luck and bad news. On first listen these tensions are not immediately apparent but beyond the bright sparkling melodies there are beautifully crafted yet deceptively sharp icebergs lying in wait.
With their sound rooted in shimmering indiepop with an undercurrent of darkness, Chorusgirl blend the sparkle of 80s bands like The Cure and the Cocteau Twins, with the close harmonies and surf-inspired indie of Dum Dum Girls and La Luz. The lyrics run from the abstract to the personal, are delicate and angry, but layered underneath a measured dose of noise and happy fizz.
The band formed in 2014 when London-based German-born songwriter Silvi Wersing realised that introverts could and should front their own shows, stepping out of the shadows of being the “chorus girl” to other people’s dreams. She was soon joined by Udo Westhoff on bass and Michael Boyle on drums. Legendary indiepop label Fortuna POP! released their eponymously titled debut album in 2015 to great critical success. The first single Oh, To Be A Defector was playlisted by BBC 6Music, and the album ended up on many end-of-year lists, made it into the Rough Trade Top 10 of the month, and a video was shortlisted for the London Short Film Festival.
With Shimmer and Spin, Chorusgirl set out to make another non-sugary indiepop record, embracing dark elements but not wallowing in them. They were collaborating more closely as a band, and were joined by Faith Taylor of Suggested Friends on lead guitar, who fleshed out the sound by sharing vocal duties and writing two songs on the album, Demon Baby and Love Is Like. Everything seemed to be going really well, until things started to unravel.
The moment they had started writing the second album, an extraordinary string of bad luck happened that lasted more than a year. As Silvi explains, “There was barely a month without bad news on a personal and wider level, and at the end of that year, my anxiety started to spike badly. The album became a very important anchor. Every note and lyric were raked over and looked at twice; we were hacking and honing away at the songs for months, trying to craft some sort of sculpture of our state of mind.”
The spell was only really broken when Reckless Yes listened to the album, loved it immediately and signed them. It’s not surprising that the label was so enamoured with the record – there is such a breadth and depth in the brilliantly and meticulously constructed songs. From the outset, album opener and lead single In Dreams instantly draws in the listener with a stark, haunting guitar riff and Silvi’s bare vocals, before it kicks in to become a rousing and catchy pop anthem. Thematically, this song follows on from This Town Kills from their debut and is about Silvi’s small town upbringing.
While tension runs through the album, there are plenty of bright pop hooks to enjoy. The music has a way of touching the soul and reaching sublime peaks. Silvi’s voice has become stronger and more confident, complimented by Faith’s wide-ranging vocals. The album is a well-crafted, bold statement, full of juxtapositions and intensity.
The band will play in Sheffield at Audacious Art Experiment om November 17th.