Thank God for The Chills, really. Martin Phillipps, Chills front-man, is currently in the midst of one of his most fertile periods as an artist and long-time fans are being rewarded again and again by this group's excellent brand of indie-pop. This latest run started with 2015's excellent Silver Bullets, and it continues here this year with this superb new single, "Rocket Science / Lost In Space", also on Fire Records, for Record Store Day 2017.
Phillipps remains one of the very few artists who can write about important matters without the resulting songs sounding like lessons. His best songs possess a lightness of touch that allows him to easily slip in some big ideas without hectoring listeners. And, as he told me in a 2015 interview when discussing the build-up to the release of Silver Bullets: "I realised I needed to address some of the difficult issues that have been bothering me about the state of our world." That sort of need is surely what inspired Phillipps to write the punchy "Rocket Science", a song that frankly addresses the risks of silence when living in a world with horrible figures like Trump in power. Sonically, it is a cousin to "The Male Monster From The Id" from 1992's Soft Bomb, and, as I tried to explain abovr, it shares a similar serious-yet-peppy vibe.
The flip this time out is "Lost In Space", a composition that Phillipps can trace back to his earliest years with this act. Unrecorded until now, the tune does indeed sound a bit like some of what ended up on Brave Words, for instance, even as the new(er) members of The Chills imbue this with a good deal of modern heft. The personal to the political of "Rocket Science", "Lost In Space" is a worthy flip-side for this Record Store Day 2017 single and a pretty good showcase for Phillipps' talents as a fine guitarist.
Released on Friday via Fire Records, "Rocket Science" / "Lost In Space" is, hopefully, a bright harbinger of new music to come from The Chills. As a standalone single, the 2-sided release works remarkably well. I think "Rocket Science" is every bit as strong as any cut on Silver Bullets, and I can only hope that Phillipps and his crew are busy at work on the full-length follow-up to that superb album.
[Photos: Jon Thom Moodie Tuesday]