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Album Review: CHLLNGR – Form of Release

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Artist: CHLLNGR
Album: Form of Release
Tracks: 11
Release Date: 27th October 2014
Label: Time No Place

CHLLNGR, a.k.a. Steven Jess Borth II, is about to release his second full length album Form of Release, on 27th October 2014, through LA based label Time No Place. The record was recorded at the Red Bull Studios in Copenhagen and is full of guest performers, including JOSIAHWISE IS THE SERPENTWITHFEET, who features on five tracks.

Form of Release opens with the track For the Books, which features the title of the album in its lyrics. The track also features JOSIAHWISE IS THE SERPENTWITHFEET, who features on a further four tracks on the record.  For the Books is a classic CHLLNGR song, through its fusion of elements of soul, pop, electronic music and more. It is a slow building track, with a slightly surprising chorus, where an almost robotic vocal sound is brought to the song, which otherwise has a notably soulful and R&B influenced vocal performance.

A highlight of the album is the track First Time, which features Dels. It opens with an almost 1980’s synth pop sound but quickly breaks back down to a laid-back, multi-genre infused sound with another soulful vocal line. First Time also features a rap element, brought by Dels, which really brings a new dimension to a track with an already eclectic mix of influences.

One of the weaker tracks on the album is Inside My Skin. Despite a really interesting use of brass instruments near the end of the track, the first half or so is fairly bland. The lyrics are interesting, as is the melody, but the track just doesn’t have anything that makes you really listen early on enough.

The following track is unfortunately one of the more forgettable ones of the album as well. Without Yours sounds slightly more experimental than many of the other tracks and it is one of the tracks that features JOSIAHWISE IS THE SERPENTWITHFEET. There are some interesting synthesiser sounds, but the repetitive rhythm used makes them slightly annoying to listen to after a while.

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Although, the record really picks up with the track Yes, with its immediately fast rhythm; it is unlike many of the tracks on Forms of Release. Yes features Grace Hall of Skin Town and her performance on the record is great, mixed with the almost group sounding backing vocals, this track might be the most soulful on the record, something which really suits CHLLNGR’s style.

The album closes with the track Save Me. It opens with multi-layered vocal tracks, almost reminiscent of Queen’s vocal style. The track slowly introduces a main vocal line with a simple backing beat. The vocal performance on this track is a particular stand out moment from the record; it’s honest, emotive and technically strong. Despite being a slow, more ballad like track compared with the rest of the album, Save Me is a real highlight of the album and acts as a perfect closer.

Despite some of the weaker tracks, Form of Release is a strong album from CHLLNGR. With so many featured tracks, it could easily have slipped into sounding less cohesive and more like a mixtape but CHLLNGR’s unique sound really pulls all 11 tracks into a great piece of work, that’s very enjoyable to listen to.

For more information about CHLLNGR and his new album, please visit the following links:

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About The Author

Currently studying for a degree in Music and Entertainment Industry Management at University of Hertfordshire.

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