Album Review: Quelle Chris – Being You Is Grest I Wish I Could Be You More Often
On Quelle Chris’s Bandcamp page, the description for his new record Being You is Great, I Wish I Could be You More Often reads that Being You is, “almost too human—full of the sublte revelations that only come to you later in life, when you realize that heroes make plenty of errors, and anti-heroes often have merit.”
This is notable, not just because they misspelled “subtle” as “sublte,” (might wanna edit that, Chris), but because it frames the album in a way that highlights Chris’s nuanced perception of his own humanity. He examines his psyche incisively and meticulously, and through this we too are prodded. Chris reads your mind, and proclaims about yourself what you are too afraid to say.
Being You, is Chris’s most ambitious album to date. His off-center style may be tedious to some, and, other than maybe “The Dreamer in the Den Of Wolves,” these tracks are not “bangers,” but the record delivers not just in spite of a lack of pop appeal, but rather transcending it.
“Might bring myself some flowers, I’m in love with myself,” Chris drones on in the first full track, “Buddies.” The lumbering bassline walks over light drums, a spacious beat sparingly colored in by horn or synth stabs. The heady, weirdly engaging lyrics complete the track. “Might just jump back and kiss myself,” Chris proclaims. In an ode to fleeting self-love, Chris paints an intense, emotional high, a time when “being you is great.” Later, Chris depicts the emotional lows that follow, times when he wishes he could be himself more often. Like on “Birthdaze,” where he states “feels like my birthday today, and those are the worst days. If it’s a race for the end, then why come in first place?”
The album continues with this emotional oscillation in “I’m That Ni#%a.” The first section is a self congratulatory anthem, with a pumping drum rhythm and some smooth keys over top. Around the 2:40 mark, the instrumental shifts, tensing up as a character, assumed to hail from Chris’s native neighborhood, questions repeatedly, “who are you, and who do you belong to.” Chris’s defenses steadily crumble and devolve until the two are in an all out screaming match. Even in a moment of apparent confidence, Chris’s emotional fragility is able to get the best of him.
Many songs, though instrumentally reserved, impress lyrically, like “Fascinating Grass,” or “In Case I Lose Myself in the Crowd,” and the best do both, like “The Dreamer in the Den of the Wolves,” or “Popeye.” Occasionally, however, the lyrics fail to carry the songs, like in “Dumb for Brains,” which feels like a stretched out intro rather than a completed song.
Its distinctive production makes Being You coherent. Never relying on a single instrument to drive a song, the sounds feel clumped together, muffled, wriggling to escape out from under each other. This creates a tension in the music, putting a lot of the attention on the vocals. The music is, more than anything, a complement to Chris rather than his accompaniment. This tension demonstrates one of the album’s strong points, a dynamic and thematic mastery. Quelle Chris understands how to create a beautiful musical moment, but more importantly he knows how to build to that moment, how to impress sparingly. Though the instrumentals and flows are often simplistic, any change or augmentation hits hard, pacing the music in such a way that it never becomes bland. This sensibility makes the surprisingly bombastic track “Dreamer in the Den of Wolves,” so effective, and the infrequent horns in “Buddies,” consistently chilling.
Quelle Chris says a lot on this record, and he manages to say it in an engaging, artful way. It may not impress everyone, as Quelle Chris can be an acquired taste, but for those who can appreciate it, they’ll find a lot to enjoy on Being You is Great, I Wish I Could be You More Often.
Have a listen here.
Article written by Noah Tanen