Sounds: Distorted vocals over dreamy soundscapes and ear-catching guitar riffs If you like: Dijon, MorMor, Emotional Oranges Why you should listen: To drift away. It is an ideal record to get lost in, with hypnotizing vocals, often ethereal production and contemplative lyricism Rating: NNNN (out of 5) Best Track:Good For Now
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ON HIS THIRD PROJECT, Better Luck In the Next Life, Chiiild continues to push genre boundaries, delivering a dreamlike, deeply personal 12-track LP, best described as shoegazer soul.
Montreal singer-songwriter/producer Chiiild (a.k.a. Yonatan Ayal) has a diverse musical background, with inspirations ranging from Sam Cooke to Pink Floyd. He has written and produced for pop stars like Jennifer Lopez and Usher and for alternative R&B acts like Emotional Oranges and Victoria Monét. His first two projects, Synthetic Soul (2020) and Hope For Sale (2021) seamlessly merged soul, pop, indie rock, jazz and psychedelia. Both were ambitious, genre-blending projects with stellar vocals and addictive grooves that left the listener feeling warm and comforted.
His latest album is darker, trippier, and according to him, autobiographical. On his recent press run, Chiiild talked about how he has grown as a songwriter, challenging himself to open up and create more personal and honest tracks. Better Luck In The Next Life feels weightier than his previous releases, with songs about mortality, disillusionment and love. Chiiild paired that shift in tone with listless chorus-soaked vocals and hazy instrumentals. The result of his experimentation is a thought-provoking and evocative record.
The title track opens up the LP with monolithic echoing vocals and shimmering keys, building and building until Chiiild sings the chorus, “Better luck in the next life.” In the outro, he divulges the meaning behind the title, explaining that people are often unauthentic, spending their lives hiding their true selves. Chiiilid’s anxieties about mortality and authenticity are alluded to throughout the project, a nagging worry often covered up by moments of love or lust. The heart of the record is this push-and-pull: between genuine happiness and underlying feelings of anxiety and existential dread.
The record can be trance-inducing, ideal for a contemplative walk, bike ride or drive around the neighbourhood. Yet, every track has a creative groove or a catchy hook that elevates it. Antidote pairs ethereal production and drowsy vocals with upbeat power chords, capturing the vibes of a dizzying night out. Surfing The Silver Linings is an atmospheric anthem: Chiiild tries to find peace from a stressful world by lighting up; the chorus comes and he pleads, “Don’t fuck with my bliss.” It is a relatable feeling, getting high to escape trauma; the track is relaxing yet moving.
Chiiild’s vocals are compelling throughout, whether understated and chorus-soaked or cheerful and upbeat. On Bon Voyage, he playfully muses to a partner about levitating together, then the chorus hits and he shows off his angelic vocal range. The song is full of vivid images, including kaleidoscope eyes and tangerine skies. It encapsulates the joy and excitement of a blossoming relationship. Hiding in Plain Sight sounds raw with ringing acoustic guitars and raspy authentic singing, which works well for a song about hiding one’s true self.
Though sparse (there are only four), the LP’s featured artists add a lot: either contrasting Chiiild’s laidback delivery with expressive vocals or furthering the relaxed vibe with a serene verse. Fellow Montreal native Charlotte Cardin appears on I Hope I Packed A Parachute, an earnest duet about an all-consuming love. Good For Now is a standout. Chiiild finds himself in the early stages of a relationship, scared to get hurt; his tender singing and a simple electric guitar riff capture the imagination, and Lucky Daye’s angst-filled verse ties the whole thing together.
Better Luck In the Next Life takes the listener for a ride, both emotionally and sonically. Chiiild took a risk embracing a new, rawer, hazier sound and unloading some of his innermost anxieties — and those risks unequivocally paid off.