In 2003, Amy Lee from Evanescence stood on stage at Rock am Ring and said ‘I am the only chick of today…in all the bands. C’mon girls, let’s get more of us up here, seriously!’. I’d love to say that her comments prompted a new wave of innovative, exciting and empowered female musicians, but sadly, as we all know, this was not the case. Paramore came along and suddenly every girl from Bromsgrove had a Tennessee accent and orange hair.
I’ve seen more Hayley-esque frontwomen than I could ever possibly want to; so much so that if I hear the phrase ‘female fronted alt-rock’, I inadvertently grit my teeth. Needless to say, initially at least, Essex’s Chase the Enemy fell into this bracket. A tiny girl backed by four barely-out-of-school lads? Oh god, not that old chestnut. But you know what? Once I stopped dreading the possibilities and actually listened to the band, I found myself pleasantly surprised.
Chase the Enemy are a band in flux. They dance along the line of ‘innovative alt/pop rock’ and ‘unsettled homage’. Take their track Weigh Me Down – it’s filled with painfully catchy riffs, as is much of their output. Yet despite this, one can’t help but feel like the track is trying to build to something powerful; something that it never quite reaches. This is what happens when Chase The Enemy’s self-awareness and accompanying reluctance to ‘let go’ really get in their way. As a result, instead of focusing on the track’s highlights, your attention is drawn towards musical similarities that prove to be about as unsubtle as a hormonal divorcee at a Twilight convention. There’s a fine line between ‘derivative’ and ‘inspired by’, and for the most part, this doesn’t concern the Essex five piece. But in such tracks as Weigh Me Down, their influences detract from their own talents. This is applicable to most areas of the band – including instrumentalists – but it is most noticeable in the vocal lines. Jessica Moore’s vocals have a delightfully distinctive and fresh tone, regardless of the song, but sometimes they are marred by a noticeably unnatural twang. This may be as a result of some subconscious imitation, but often I found that this unnatural diction could sometimes result in rather oddly pitched notes. On the flipside, some may see this tone as an enjoyable quirk, and the songs that heavily feature this trait are not wholly unenjoyable. Moore undoubtedly has a great vocal talent – her natural sweet tone and enviable control are visible from the off. But it’s songs such as Give Us The Sky that really show Chase the Enemy as an innovative musical act – layered vocals, great grasp of the genre and an all-round very rich sound. When Moore really pushes her vocals and sings with her natural voice, not the voice she thinks she should have, that’s when the whole band are allowed to shine. I left the song grinning, thinking ‘ooh, do that, do that, keep doing the good thing!’
Lionheart is the real stand out track in CTE’s artillery – it’s powerful, upbeat and most of all, fun. And the accompanying video? Frontwomen of the future, go watch it now. Not only does everyone MOVE, but they even *gulp* look like they’re enjoying it! Tracks like this really do epitomise all that Chase The Enemy are when they’re at their best; solid songs with sparkling moments of true brilliance. With great riffs, cookie-cutter pop-punk drumming and a palpable togetherness from the whole band, what’s not to like? Even if their sound isn’t to your taste, you can’t help but admire their passion and clear love of their genre.