Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.
The Chills have never been immensely popular outside their native New Zealand since forming in 1980, but their mysteriously gorgeous new wave music does have its share of fans. Somewhere Beautiful, recorded live at a small venue on their home turf about two years ago, will no doubt delight those loyal followers. It’s a career-spanning selection of hits energetically delivered by founding member Martin Phillipps and the latest incarnation of The Chills.
Phillipps and company blast through 20 songs, several of which clock in at under three minutes. Even the early Cat Stevens gem, “Matthew And Son,” is swept up in the momentum and given a beefier, sped-up treatment. Some of the live versions, particularly on “Effloresce and Deliquesce” and “Heavenly Pop Hit,” lack the elegance of the originals, but still have an impact. Plus, there’s a variety of approaches, from the deliriously exotic “Pink Frost” to the more punk-oriented “The Other” and “February.”