Album Review Julien Chang - The Sale

Ultimately, enjoyment of ‘The Sale’ will rest on one’s affinity for the musically erratic.

Julien Chang - The Sale

Given that the record was written while Julien Chang was studying at Princeton, it’d be all too easy to ascribe an escapist nature to ‘The Sale’, or marry his noted academic interest in German philosophy to the track title of ‘Ethical Expectations’. Instead, it’s the Baltimore artist’s cut-and-paste nature that’s at the fore for much of the record; a combination of his background in jazz and classical, and the signature warm, reverby sounds of much of early 21st Century US indie. Opener ‘Heart Holiday’ begins in an eerily similar manner to Harry Styles’ ubiquitous ‘Music For A Sushi Restaurant’, its chord progression and subsequent crash forming a dystopian mirror to the intro to ‘Harry’s House’. It’d be an untruth, of course, to say that’s where the similarities end: both artists clearly have a lot of love for ‘70s soft rock and an urge to play with songwriting’s conventions. Julien seems to favour switching on a whim, creating a soothing lull, then performing a 180, regardless of where the moment falls. This is seen on the woozy ‘Marmalade’, which transcends with choral repetition, the relatively freeform ‘Crossed Paths’ and especially on the shape-shifting ‘Snakebit’, which takes Prince-like guitar licks and late-career MGMT’s psych deep-dive, and fuses it into a disorientating jazzy headfuck. ‘The Sale’ may often sound soothing – see the plucky ‘Bellarose’ or jangly ‘Sweet Obsolete’ – but don’t let them fool; ultimately, enjoyment of ‘The Sale’ will rest on one’s affinity for the musically erratic.

 

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