REVIEW: Chesca — Feel the Breeze (LP)
Pummeling us with a melodic flurry right out of the gate in “Crocodile Tears,” Chesca’s Feel the Breeze starts off with its lead single and gets more enrapturing as we progress through its ten-song tracklist. I was taken with “Crocodile Tears” last May and had high hopes to hear its artistic parameters blown out as far as they could run before falling into the dissonance of ambient frills, and much to my pleasure, that’s exactly what Feel the Breeze is. This is a limitlessly creative piece for Chesca, incorporating postmodern R&B influences into “Woman Down” as seamlessly as she would a hard rock beat in “You Ain’t The 1 4 Me,” and if you were looking for something a bit more solemn this summer, you’d better look elsewhere.
Feel the Breeze’s danceable moments, such as the cut-loose jam “Happy,” are countered by lumbering hip-hop basslines in “Orange County Juice” and “No Words” that could smother a less capable lyricist but work out for our songstress quite well here. She’s got a lot of muscle in the studio, and I think she knows it; there’s a sincere cockiness to “Orange County Juice” and “No Words” that feels natural and not entirely out of place for the narrative she’s trying to build out of both songs jointly (though separated by “Could You Wake Up Now?,” in the tracklist, of course). Attitude can be appealing but apparently it can also be rather expressive in the hands of a singer/songwriter of Chesca’s pedigree.
The three-and-a-half-minute pop song “Could You Wake Up Now?,” has the most extroverted personality in terms of rhythm and rhyme here, but it doesn’t set off a chain of anxious beats in the latter half of Feel the Breeze at all — that would have instilled too much consistency here. We need to come into the title track unprepared for its foggy harmony, which brought to mind a slow, translucent version of The Knife’s “Heartbeats” I heard the UK’s Howard James Kenny play once, rather than feeling like we know what’s about to hit us around the next corner. That eliminates so much of the radiant tension Chesca is using as a catalyst for communication in this material, which would have changed my listening experience with this LP entirely.
We come to the conclusion of Feel the Breeze in a pairing of the piano powerhouse “Let’s Say” and the more surreal rock tune “Could You Remind Me?,” both of which line up none of the aforementioned aesthetical concepts we crossed on our way to the finish line in this record. Wholeheartedly, I think that Chesca wanted it this way. She didn’t lead us into this second LP intending on giving us a newly-stylized version of what we heard in Chesca Musica; she wants to give the audience another layer of herself, her music, her artistry in this piece, and for all intents and purposes I would have to say she hit it out of the park here. Amiable but still quite bewitching and relentlessly affectionate, Feel the Breeze is unmissable if you appreciate quality pop music.