Brooklyn, New York-based indie rock outfit Van Chamberlain releases their new album, In the Sun, via Very Jazzed. Made up of brothers Van and Jacob, who grew up making music together, in 2019, the pair began performing as Van Chamberlain. They released their first studio demo, LY, in 2020, just before the pandemic, which forced them to forego their live debut. So, they returned to the studio and began working on In the Sun.
Van Chamberlain’s sound blends dream-pop, jangle, and ‘90s alternative elements with lyrics based on personal experiences of loss and ensuing growth. Characterized by layering, both sonic and philosophical, and topped by Van’s easygoing voice, their music reflects their message – that what’s past is prologue, and the future holds promise, but neither will count unless you make peace with the present.
Comprising 10-tracks, In the Sun starts with “Heavy Cloud,” opening on washes of gentle, gleaming textures, at once jangly and shimmering. Van’s velvety tenor imbues the lyrics with indulgent, crystalline colours as the rhythm pushes the song forward with soft but propulsive energy.
Highlights on the album encompass “Light Years,” which merges glowing dream-pop savours with hints of retro alternative guitars. For some reason, the vocals on this track conjure up memories of Blue Oyster Cult’s Buck Dharma. Glittering guitars fill the tune with suffusions of luminous colouration as the finessed rhythm gives the song a latent feel as if it could take off and fly to unexpected heights.
“The Other Side” rolls out on surf-rock flavours and then settles into psychedelic textures reminiscent of the ‘60s, perhaps Jefferson Airplane or The Yardbirds. There’s also a slight taste of country nuances running through the harmonics.
“87” travels on jangled guitars as Van’s dreamy vocals infuse the lyrics with wistful tones as he narrates memories of the past. The intro to “Empty Scheme” recalls the ‘60s, with traces of Roy Orbison-laced hues flowing into a creamy undulating rhythm.
The final track, “Smiley Face,” features slightly darker guitars supported by an unhurried rhythm as pensive vocals infuse the lyrics with misty timbres. Silky and brimming with iridescent blushes, In the Sun delivers luxurious sonic strata, supple and alluring.