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Chess Club - You're Lucky I Like You

Chess Club. Image via band Facebook.

Nearly three years after its debut LP, Hit The Ball, Lawrence emo/math rock trio Chess Club has returned with its follow-up, You're Lucky I Like You. Despite the likelihood that almost any dedicated fan of the subgenres the band pulls from will find something to enjoy on this record, there are some flaws that may prevent the band from connecting with a larger audience. The main obstacle is the songwriting. 


Though all three members are clearly skilled instrumentalists that have shown themselves to be capable writers before, there's hardly a catchy, hooky moment among the first four songs on the album. Even when they can eke out an interesting bit in these songs, the corresponding lyrics sung in those moments are usually a first-person thought with little interesting imagery or are redundant, confusing, or repetitive in their presentation (the phrase "wrong from right" appears in two separate songs). Vocalist/guitarist Griffin Nelson could use an honest editor.

While these lyric-writing issues continue on and off throughout the album, the musical compositions improve around track five and prove steady through its completion. "All Aboard" contains a driving energy vital in keeping bands that utilize math-y rhythms from becoming as dull as math homework. Perhaps the two songs that precede it (the slow-moving "Bet Five, Brett Favre" and the album's title track) might feel more mature to the band in writing them, but when the writing isn't there, a slow song can turn into quite the slog.

Another minor issue: Nelson gives a solid vocal performance throughout the album, but it feels as though somewhere in the process of recording, mixing, and mastering this album, the urgency of that performance is muted or muffled. Those vocals do, however, break through on "Long In The Tooth," a buoyant and mostly-acoustic album highlight that is successful in creating a moment of sincere reflection.

All of this being said, Chess Club remains the best emo band in Lawrence under 30 and one that I look forward to seeing when *gestures with hands* all of this is over with.

Download or purchase a physical copy of this album on Bandcamp or find it on all streaming platforms.

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