Chartreuse are a Birmingham-based band consisting of close friends Michael Wagstaff (vocals, guitar and keys), Hattie Wilson (vocals and keys), Perry Lovering (bass and keys) and Rory Wagstaff (drums). Since forming in 2014, Chartreuse have developed an ambient, dark-pop sound with emotional depth and flavours of jazz, soul and folk. The band create spacious soundscapes which allow their beautifully crafted songs to breathe and stretch out. Last year’s debut EP, Even Free Money Doesn’t Get Me Out Of Bed, created considerable interest and so the follow-up EP, Keep Checking Up On Me, has been eagerly anticipated.
Opening track Tall Grass has a slightly melancholic undertow, with Michael Wagstaff’s deeply reflective vocals underpinned by echoey organ and waves of spectral synths…”I’m in the tall grass, drunk as hell again, wondering why life won’t make a fit enough plan for me.” With its choppy, rhythmic delay and reverb, Enemy’s Belly calls to mind classic, echoplex-era John Martyn and features glorious vocal harmonies from Michael Wagstaff and Hattie Wilson…”I’ll sleep on the enemy’s belly and I take shelter under their trees, and when they ask me “where is your spine?”, I say I left at my mother’s bedside…”
Title track Keep Checking Up On Me is a majestic slow burner, featuring gently popping percussion, elegant piano chords, warm washes of synth, shimmering guitar lines and more wonderful vocal harmonies. Hattie Wilson delivers delicate, soulful lead vocals on the exceedingly mellow Blue State. With its finger-clicks and spacey keys, this song has a deliciously trippy, jazzy vibe. In the closing track Hope You’re Not Holy, graceful and resonant guitar lines provide a backdrop to Michael Wagstaff’s heartfelt delivery, with some multi-tracked vocals producing a lush, choral feel.
Keep Checking Up On Me is a bold, diverse and beautifully balanced collection of songs, which showcases Chartreuse’s virtuosity, versatility and vast potential to maximum effect.
Keep Checking Up On Me was released by Communion Records on 9th October 2020