In “Venus,” the new single by New York Alternative Rock band The Chordaes, rock guitar isn’t the focal point of the song but rather an element of its grandeur. Using textured keys and metallic percussion as magnifiers, The Chordaes wrap us in sky high melodies that jettison into dreamy shoe gaze territory, only to yank us back to straight up pop harmony in the chorus. For being a complex composition that has little in common with the fodder of mainstream alternative rock, “Venus” is a surprisingly accessible, easy listening track that wears its identity on its sleeve with pride. The music is grand and overwhelming in places, but its grooves are irresistibly chic.
Ethan Glenn’s drumming in this single has a very electronic feel to it, but there’s never any doubt that we’re listening to an actual player and not a machine. The echoing thunder of the cymbal crash is muffled by the exaggerated riffing, which darts in between the basslines like a thief in the night. Consistency isn’t something I would normally associate with a pop song like this one, but it’s a key component of this single’s appeal.
Lyrically “Venus” is about yearning for someone who is removed from our grasp yet still wields tremendous control over our emotions. Frontman Leo Sawikin lays into the verses with a harsh aggressiveness that implies a painful attachment to the words, and we’re with him as he examines a relationship doomed to remain frozen in space. The bone-dry chorus leaves a chilling imprint on the listener as we explore through the atmospheric debris hurled in our direction in the remainder of the track, but the sonic and emotional damage has already been done at this point.
Sawikin’s transitions between the main verse and the chorus are excellently timed and add a splash of biting post-punk to this stoned canvas, which resembles outer space more and more as we near the song’s conclusion. The mix by legendary mixer Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragon, The Revivalists) resembles some of his previous work but has a much more surreal vibe to it here. “Venus” reminds me of a collage of sounds and rhythmic schemes that are trying to share the same track but aren’t willing to compromise their individual contributions. Needham does a great job of keeping all these pieces from getting too incendiary when they start banging into each other.
“Venus” is a wonderful pop single; it’s well-balanced and melodic. As the track fades away and all that’s left behind from its enormous harmonies is a lingering trace of feedback, one is quite tempted to play the song over again and explore its deeper lyrical meaning. Sawikin commits some of his most earnest and heartfelt words to record in this tune, and collectively The Chordaes leave music enthusiasts a lot to study in their most recent entry in the American indie pop lexicon.