★★★★ Snow Bound FIRE. CD/DL/LP Psychedelic pop thrills from a man who by all accounts should be dead.
There’s nothing quite like being told you’re going to die to focus your thoughts. Now clear of the hepatitis C that was close to claiming his life, The Chills’ Martin Phillipps visits themes of ageing and mortality, the loss of guiding heroes and wondering why the rebellion of his youth has dissipated in subsequent generations. Instead of sounding like Grandpa Simpson, coming to terms with having any future at all has reinvigorated Phillipps, the songs filled with pop hooks among a fairground psychedelia that is denser and darker than ever. The usual modern targets are aimed at – social media trolls, religious zealots, fake news, disingenuous public figures – but, always a unique voice, Phillipps is as refreshingly conciliatory as he is arrow straight. It may be nothing particularly new, but it’s the way he tells ‘em.