You can’t deny that there is something sorrowful behind the Bergen-based, lo-fi dream/psych pop trio Chain Wallet, and you can’t hide that their music suits the environment wherein it was created. It may be a cliché that it always rains in the band’s hometown, but when you play Chain Wallet’s self-titled debut album, it’s not too difficult imagine the mist hanging heavily over their indie dystopian vision of Bergen.
Even though feelings of nostalgia and melancholy lurk in the Scandinavian shadows, it’s not difficult to find indie-pop gold in its purest form, glittering below the heavy layers of synth and reverb. Tracks like ‘Shade’ and ‘Abroad’ have an up-tempo urgency to them which calls to mind bands like Motorama, whereas other dreamy psych ballads like ‘Muted Colours’ and ‘Stuck In The Fall’ occupy a rich and hazy middle ground between Diiv and Wild Nothing.
These sombre but captivating pop songs are a good introduction. Even though Chain Wallet may not have many genre colleagues in Norway, they easily join the ranks behind international indie counterparts like Twin Shadow or Beach Fossils.
On their debut album, Chain Wallet explore themes of betrayal, idleness and crushed dreams against the backdrop of an existential breakdown; The album is loosely based in the same universe, and portrays different aspects of the quarter-life crisis, ensuring that ‘Chain Wallet’ hits on a visceral, teenage level, amongst the shimmer and haze of the lo-fi soundscape that they conjure.
Frode Boris from the band explains the band’s ethos and sound - “We want to capture the acute distress of an afflicted character; his self-indulgent pity, gradual loss of touch with reality and his forlorn attempts on returning to normal life. The abrupt disintegration unveils interesting tensions between urgency and inertia. The album is about fragmented memories, unfulfilled ambitions and the quiet whisper of a stranger.”
Here, the band show their absolute strength, which isn’t just writing songs that unavoidably stick in your mind, but also erase the divide between sorrow and happiness. You will be left with a feeling of both reflection and pensiveness, whilst at the same time as you’re quietly elated. That’s the impact good music should have.