Those of you familiar with the summer of chill wave 2010 will recall that Oxford’s Chad Valley received attention quite late in the game, releasing his debut self-titled EP in November 2010. It was an above average collection of sun-squinting Balearic ditties that stood out from the crowd on the saturated chill wave scene. However, from the moment the chiming organs and whip cracking lead synth of opener “Now That I’m Real” kick in, you can hear Hugo silently ushering in a new movement of chill wave, an altogether more dance floor oriented sound, where syncopated rhythms and catchy hooks are just as important as reverb-heavy vocals and tsunami sized pads. Record highlight “Fast Challenges” builds to a euphoric climax, slamming its massive chords down in a way that brings the dance floor to the beach and back again. Elsewhere, “Reach Lines” blurs the lines between Washed Out and ‘80s power balladry, “Acker Bilk” combines triumphant victory cries with tender melody and “I Want Your Love” stomps with an ‘80s R&B swagger. There’s a real sense of growing confidence and a growing desire for commerciality in Manuel’s music, and he’s creating a sound that will catapult him from the blogs to the big stages.
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