Artist: Chad Valley
Album: Young Hunger
Release Date: Oct.30th, 2012
Review by: Sean Kayden
Hugo Manuel’s Chad Valley isn’t quite the one-man show anymore with his debut LP. He has a number of guests contributing including romantic doom pop enthusiast, Twin Shadow. For what it is, “Young Hunger” is a silky smooth, tropical paradise of seductive beats that is carried by the warm vocals Manuel belts out. Far from perfect or even wildly innovative, Chad Valley’s takes cues and notes from previous generations to craft tightly produced material that is utterly danceable and blissful. “Young Hunger” benefits from its supporting players to give variety to the album since Manuel sounds exactly the same on each track. His real talent is the way he mixes his songs. They are considerably accessible which allows the listener to become instantly enthralled with. What evolves is the perfect balance of pop and electronic. Ultimately, Manuel has a keen sense of taking chances when you least expect it. “Young Hunger” won’t rock the boat and certainly isn’t going to blow you away, but the likability factor is huge and the fun, sweet vocals, and romanticism wrapped tightly around the record should delight fans and curious listeners.
With ten full length tracks and an interlude, the album clocks in over 42 minutes. It’s a good duration given the genre and especially since things start to sound too alike after awhile. The real treat is “Fathering/Mothering,” which features the vocals of Anne Lise Frøkedal. It’s a slow, methodical, and tranquil song that will subdue any negative thoughts you may have. That’s why Hugo Manuel is so damn good at what he does. His music is unbelievably soothing and lovely. While his lyrics aren’t anything to go bonkers over, they are still enjoyable and come across deeply personal at times. There is a subtle sweetness to “Young Hunger.” The first half of the record makes you want to bust a move on the dance floor, but the second half slows you down, puts away the worries for another day. Come to think about it, the record feels like two EPs that make up one LP since how both halves of the album take different directions. The second half of Chad Valley’s solid debut asks you to put aside any problems and concerns for a moment because you can always return to them but why not try to just let yourself go for just a bit. I can definitely roll with and in this day and age, who can’t?
For the genre it plays into it, Chad Valley is quite the magician. His song often cast spells on its listeners because your body is present, but mind travels somewhere else, somewhere better. On the title track, Manuel is at his undeniable best. The song is a spectacular showcase of tenderness and beauty found within polished beats. Somehow, this guy manages to move you in deeper way ever imaginable with the electronic sound—a genre that quite often expands to very shallow and inept musicians. Unfortunately, Manuel almost falls into this on the track, “My Girl,” where he inexplicably quotes a Spice Girls’ lyric for some odd reason. Other than that noticeable misstep, the guy is pretty legit as an artist. By the end of the record, Chad Valley does an admirable job with what he set out to do. With “Young Hunger,” Manuel covers additional ground than he probably should have since he could have benefited more by taking the shorter, more distinct route rather than weaving through the highways to finally reach his destination. Then again, at least he made it to the end.