The Chills - Silver Bullets
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The Chills made a name for themselves in the '80s and '90s as one of the most tuneful and impressive indie rock bands from New Zealand, maybe the whole world. Their leader Martin Phillipps wrote plaintive and beautiful songs, then sung them in an honest voice that resonated deeply. After releasing many timeless singles and a few very good albums, the band fell apart in the early to mid-'90s, seemingly for good. Anyone hoping for a return to the woolly, rollicking feel of their early records may feel the album is a little slick, but for The Chills in 2015, it's almost better than anyone could have expected sound-wise. As for the songs, Phillipps doesn't let the side down there, either. Whether getting deeply political, like on "America Says Hello" and the ecologically minded "Underwater Wasteland," or strictly personal, the lyrics are understated and ring true. The melodies that wrap around the words are comfortingly warm, and if nothing here is as memorable as "I Love My Leather Jacket" or "Heavenly Pop Hit," that's OK. A few come close - "Molten Gold" and the sophisticated pop ballad "Warm Waveform," to name two - but really, Silver Bullets fits together as a whole and doesn't need a pop hit, heavenly or otherwise, to be interesting or worthwhile.