published: 8 /
Dixie Ernill examines New Zealand indie pop band the Chills' debut album 'Kaleidoscope World', which has just been reissued in a two CD expanded edition
When it was originally released in February 1986 as an eight track album, 'Kaleidoscope World' appeared to fit in nicely alongside the a whole host of indie-pop records that were very much en vogue in alternative UK music circles at the time. Closer inspection, however, revealed that the album was in fact a compilation of the eight songs that the Chills had released in their native New Zealand four years earlier, putting them comfortably ahead of game and as such one of the chief pioneers of the whole C86 genre that is still so beloved today. Elsewhere at the time there was only the likes of Australia’s the Go Betweens and Glasgow band Orange Juice (who were linked by Postcard Records) that seemed on a similar wavelength.
Musically the Chills, led by Martin Phillips on vocals and guitar, infused the sound of the sixties beat groups with the spirit of the punk scene (that had only just fizzled out a couple of years before they formed) and a knowing nod to Jonathan Richman to create a sound that oozed melody without becoming too saccharine.
Of those early tracks, 'Pink Frost' is widely regarded as the Chills best and even now it still has that effortless quality that stands it apart. It was the band’s second 7” and its B-side, the predominantly instrumental 'Purple Girl' (which is also on this compilation), is another example of Phillips’ excellent ear for a tune.
On the back of renewed interest in the Chills following a live album, a BBC sessions album and an excellent new studio album, Silver Bullets, over the last few years, 'Kaleidoscope World' has been re-issued as an expanded two disc set stretching to 24 tracks. The extra room has allowed for 1985’s brilliant the 'Lost; EP as well as a number of other singles released around the same time and other unreleased gems to be included, making it a must for existing fans as well as an ideal starting point for the unenlightened.
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