Chad Valley | Young Hunger [album review]

Synth-pop has become a dirty word. But Oxford’s Chad Valley has taken a stab at reclaiming the term and breathing impressive, fresh life into a genre filled with embarrassing attempts - sorry, Owl City. On Young Hunger, Valley (nee Hugo Manuel) delivers an unorthodox concoction of electronica, airy dream pop and… adult contemporary? It’s true. Not only are there elements of James Blake and Grizzly Bear here, but also the odd Phil Collins comparison would not be all that far off. Take “Tell All Your Friends”, where Valley bats an old relationship over the head with a keyboard, looping his own voice in the background three times over. Young Hunger also includes a slew of impressive guest spots, from Twin Shadow, to El Perro Del Mar. But it’s on the solo outings where the album reaches full capacity. The standout title track goes on a raid of nineties R&B and eighties hip-hop interpretations in a rare electronic moment of self reflection, creating one of the best records of the year.

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