I’m not going to lie: when it comes to Chicane, I’m a little bit of a fan. Founded by Nick Bracegirdle, the act’s first ubiquitous single – Offshore – was released in 1996. 1997 saw the release of debut album ‘Far from the Maddening Crowds’, and it was around then (at the tender age of seven) that I first picked up the music and I have never quite dropped it. Halcyon, a track from the 2000 album ‘Behind the Sun’, still represents a seminal tune in my upbringing – a tune with which I have never fallen out of love.
As far as I was concerned, then, Chicane was the main act we had booked for the Summer Party. Headliners N-Dubz can only dream of quality like that which is demonstrated in tracks such as ‘Saltwater’ and ‘Poppiholla’. We’ve certainly secured the Ibiza-inspired dance act at a good time too: new album ‘Giants’ is set to be released at the end of July and Friday evening saw the first widespread public consumption of new single ‘Middle Distance Runner’ on Radio 1’s Friday Night Floorfillers show. Classic fans and new listeners alike can look forward to a sound with “one foot in the past and one foot in the future”, according to Bracegirdle.
That said, this new material was not on show during the party: Chicane’s set was a fusion of latest tracks from the cancelled ‘Re-worked’ EP and some tracks from the early days. Despite a brief hiccup which was conspicuous during ‘Bruised Water’ – Bracegirdle commented afterwards to Impact that “the power was surging too much and it was dropping stuff out” – tracks such as ‘Poppiholla’, ‘Don’t Give Up’ and ‘Offshore’ were met with a vehement enthusiasm by the crowd which Bracegirdle described as “tremendous”. No new material was played because, simply put, “No one would know it – with gigs, recognition is such a huge factor. We’d rather let the new album sink in and then we can play stuff off it.”
The new album is still on schedule for late July following a delay earlier in the year: “It was meant to be out a little while earlier, but a few things came along which were unexpected and so we kind of held back and produced more stuff such as the new single. It’s very difficult because things don’t always get accepted – we did a whole bunch of reworks and things don’t always work well. Sometimes something hits, and radio takes it… we’ve had some problems and we’ve also had opportunities, but things get delayed and people can get frustrated.”
There certainly has been some frustration over the past decade. An entire album was cancelled due to widespread bootlegging which led to a long period of inactivity, and the ‘Re-worked’ EP was quietly shelved in late 2009. Some legal issues had arisen over a re-work of 80s hit ‘House Arrest’ by Krush – “We covered House Arrest and there’s a massive bag of legal problems with that record. God knows why” – while the phenomenal success of Poppiholla – a re-work of popular Sigur Ros song ‘Hoppipolla’ – last summer led to a change in plans: “Poppiholla became this complete and utter monster; it just took over the frigging planet. The best laid plans of mice and men can go completely astray once you have a big record. Things change all the time and most of the stuff you can’t really talk about on the forums – the plan was to (release Re-worked) and then the whole thing went completely mental…in a good way”.
Giants has, for many, signified a return to the style of ‘classic Chicane’ following a slight departure for 2007 album Somersault and his more recent reworks of songs such as Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ and Paul Young’s ‘Come Back and Stay’. Announced tracks ‘Titles’ and ‘Barefoot’ have received praise for seeming to signify a return to Chicane’s roots, but Bracegirdle is keen to stress that he has an eye on moving forward with his sound: “People are getting excited and saying things like ‘Chicane are back, wow!’: we’ve gone back to where we have come from but artistically you’re always moving in directions which excite you first and the public second”, he said, “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, that’s just how the cookie crumbles”.
“Some people like this, some people want the old Chicane…really it is what it is. I’m excited by the new album. It’s got lots of stuff on it which is very current, modern and forward thinking…in an old sense, if that makes any sense.”
New single ‘Middle Distance Runner’ sees Bracegirdle collaborating with Owl City’s Adam Young, whose vocals will be known by many as a result of 2009 hit single ‘Fireflies’. “There’s two or three mixes about, and the album mix is quite different to the one you’ve heard (on Radio 1) actually”, Bracegirdle said. It is set to be released at the same time as the new album, and a preview of the track can be heard on www.chicanemusic.com.
They say you should never meet your heroes. During summer party I met mine, and the interview with him concluded with the following statement: “Listen darling, I had the fastest Lotus Esprit you’ve ever fucking seen. It had about 600 horsepower, and it went through gearboxes like sweeties. I had about six of the bastards.”
I’m not sure I’ll ever listen to Halcyon in quite the same way again.
Chicane’s new album ‘Giants’ is set for release on July 26th.