It's always rather difficult to review a new album by Chokebore, especially "It's a Miracle". First because 4 years after "Black Black", we were expecting it without really believing it would happen, and then because "Black Black" is an album we never get tired of, even many years after it was first released.
So is "It's a Miracle" up to its predecessor? Time will tell. But we can already answer yes to the question "Is it a good album?". It even is an excellent record; excellent and rather surprising as the group's music has gone its own way, keeping its own identity, while getting more radical. Whereas their latest concerts led us to expect a quick and tense record, this album is calm, composed and particularly thoughtful. Something new with Chokebore: the arrangements are quite sophisticated with choruses, acoustic guitars in a good half of the songs, and even a welcome keyboard in "Ultra-Lite".
So, of course some songs are strikingly evident: "Ciao L.A.", the opening song, is a hit. It is a complex but catchy melody led along by clear and heavy drums that keep the beat of the song throughout. Troy takes up "Black Black" from the beginning to the end of the song, as if to put things in their places. "Little Dream" is brimming with energy, very much like "Smaller Steps" (on "A Taste for Bitters"). Here again, a typically chokeborean melody, that does not sound like anything else, but that we will remember. This may well be their secret. Indeed this album is packed full with heady melodies. All the more so as the group tends to keep away from the tension that is so typical of "Black Black", but does not return to the rougher sound of the previous albums, only to highlight the moving melancholy of their music.
It's impossible to be insensitive to the atmosphere created by "Police" or "I'll Save You", slow but lively songs that are outside classical structures, or to that of "Be Forceful", which is more dissonant, but that allows to imagine the improvisation it stemmed from - both vocal and instrumental.
"Snow" is the outcome of this work on sound and atmosphere: a surprising intro, followed by a verse in which acoustic and electric guitars aptly mix, leading to an almost instrumental chorus in which the voice seems to be coming from afar. The record ends the way the group's concerts began last year, with "She Flew Alone", a short, simple and beautiful song in which an acoustic first part comes before a finale whose guitars become energetic while retaining this almost palpable melancholy that pervades the record. This is a record that we learn to discover as we listen to it, until we cannot get off it. This is what you can tell great records by.

Simon B.
April 9, 2002