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Friday, May 4, 2018

Chic: Believer


1) Believer; 2) You Are Beautiful; 3) Take A Closer Look; 4) Give Me The Lovin'; 5) Show Me Your Light; 6) You Got Some Love For Me; 7) In Love With Music; 8) Party Everybody.

General verdict: A great bassist and a great guitarist rolled over by synthesizers. Same old story.

Chic's last pre-breakup album is not nearly as bad as you'd expect — compared to many other Seventies' R&B acts whose last gasps were not even properly pitiful insofar as they were instan­taneously forgettable, Rodgers and Edwards never ever stopped experimenting and trying some­how to evolve and stay passionate about their evolution. The Chic of Believer has very little in common with the Chic of Chic, yet the one thing in common is that vague feel that they are not really doing it for the money, they are doing it for the body-soul. The problem is, in doing so, they have to rely on methods that had been essentially designed for the money, and this makes it pretty damn hard to spot the difference.

This album, more so than before, relies on synthesizers and programmed drums and downplays Rodgers' guitar work to get to the point. With its last track, it also begins toying with hip hop, as Nile swaggily raps over the beat — and, once again, shows why things like these should better be left to younger competitors, because the swag comes across as phoney and silly, and with the word "party" making more appearances than in the entire discography of KISS, the atmosphere smells of gold chains, Cadillacs, and dope rather than having anything to do with the socially-conscious hip hop highlights of the decade; kind of embarrassing.

On the other hand, ʽGive Me The Lovin'ʼ, Chic's last entry in the US R&B charts in ten years, is a passable update of the ʽLe Freakʼ vibe for a new age (the verse melody of the two songs is almost the same), even though, other than a couple of nice funky licks from Rodgers, its only obvious attraction is the repetitive chorus, particularly when its vocals are neatly distributed between the male and female members of the band. The slightly less harsh and more romantic ʽYou Are Beautifulʼ is even better, giving Nile more room to stretch out and hearkening back to the posh-chic vibe of the disco era with its lyrics ("unlike Clark Gable, frankly, my dear, I give a damn"). The girls do their best to prove they are still chic as hell, and, in fact, as the feminist tide slowly began turning, it is clearly seen that they play the strong female personality card well — much more so than Norma Jean Wright, the seductive siren, did in 1977. It helps make the material more impressive and palatable. But still not enough to truly woo the listener.

The album still cannot help but get stalled with a couple of boring ballads, or with a couple of dance numbers that place minimalistic synth patterns at the center (ʽShow Me Your Lightʼ), and even the most energetic numbers, such as the title track, do not leave much of a trace when they are over. At best, I can say that the group was still tight enough to radiate power — even when shooting themselves in the foot with corny synth tones, or bashing their head against the wall while reducing the role of the guitar to auxiliary accompaniment. But power alone is not enough: you need to have fun, too, and, unfortunately, Chic could never properly re-learn having fun once the changing times commanded them to forget about it.

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