Going by their singles "Videotapes" and "Looking for Love" anyone would expect a relatively orthodox rock and roll debut album from The Chapters. Claiming influences like Bruce Springsteen and The Band, you'd expect it even more. For the most part, The Chapters deliver on these expectations, but by mixing these influences with modern synth pop, The Chapters have succeeded in making "Perfect Stranger" more than just another indie rock album from a Dublin based band.
From the opening bending synth, rhythmic xylophone, and horn-like backing vocals of "Juice," the solid harmonies and off-beat rhythms of "Ukrainian Gymnast" and the rocky funk of "Looking For Love," "Perfect Stranger" never falls into the realm of predictability. Moments of piano led rock and roll approach the sure presence of The Hold Steady, while the use of either weighty or buoyant synths colour proceedings with a subtle eighties twang.
At times Ross Mc Nally's rough, gravelly vocals gently crack into a rasping yelp, while in its quieter moments it is soft and porous in the manner of Peter Gabriel or Guy Garvey. Some of these mellower moments may hinder the overall pace of "Perfect Stranger," but they do little to distract from a variable selection of catchy and atmospheric tracks.
The nicest thing about "Perfect Stranger" is that, though it draws heavily on popular genres, it never tries too hard to be one thing or another. It is an album at ease with itself, traversing timelines to be modern without trying to be hip, trendy or cool. Nice one.