token girl: like a girl, but better

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

shimmy shimmy chalets

‘Someone told us earlier that we look like a cross between Dorian from Birds of a Feather and Bet Lynch.’
The Chalet girls, resplendent in tiger stripes, mirrored shades and bee-hived black dos are on stage at the Buffalo Bar. Less a cross between faded eighties glamourpusses, more the illogical conclusion to a Bis-Stereolab-Le Tigre evolution, there hasn’t been a band this kitschly colourful since Kenickie imploded on stage at the Astoria and put away their platform heels. I think anachronistically of words like pizzazz, panache and finesse and gawp.
Three days later and The Chalets clutch water bottles and shiver in the reeking indie den that is the Dublin Castle, the scene of another debauched Night Before that saw them take showtime inspiration from Liza Minnelli in Cabaret. Stepping out in bowler hats, bowties and spats they ended up, Paula Cullen (vocals/keyboards/glockenspiel/cool white boots) laughs, ‘looking more like Playboy bunnies.’
Alongside her round the table sit Caoimhe Derwin (keyboards/vocals/glockenspiel/tap dancer), Dylan Roche (drums/hair/make-up), Chris Judge (bass/vocals/creates the artwork that screams ‘Merchandise me!’) and Enda Loughman (guitar/vocals/single boy). During what some would no doubt call a 'whirlwind' 2005 the Dublin quintet have already toured with Art Brut and The Subways. It's with the 'likeminded' artrock jokers that they have particularly bonded, pooling resources at the end of every night on tour so that no band member was left sans biere. They've just finished a solo circuit round north London culminating, appropriately at the Camden Crawl and they'll be back in town for more soon.
At first glance The Chalets form a cynical coupling. Until the boys seduced the girls in 2003, they admit that they were 'making really bad, really horrible music' as an all-boy guitar trio. They hooked up through friends, their mutual love of electro-pop, forgotten girl bands and Daniel Clowes’ aesthetic vision making for the perfect match.
'We were looking for two nice girls - but we found them,' Dylan deadpans. Such verbal play is typical of a band who'd have me believe that they were named in remembrance of a skiing accident on a snowy mountaintop in Switzerland rather than after a wicked weekend at All Tomorrow’s Parties. Mischief flickers across the table.
As a five-piece, The Chalets have sparred and sparkled their way through three EPs of vodka-drenched ditties. Now signed to Setanta and with an album (which they reveal may or may not be called 'Check In’) almost in the leopard print shoulder bag, they’ve given up their day jobs in fashion/hair/whatever and returned to the parental manors to dedicate themselves to fulfilling the indie dream.
It is The Chalets’ boy-girl dynamic that lends their songs a flavour of flirtation which sometimes borders on conflict. Part lust, part loathing, they soundtrack hangovers to nights spent too long at the bar, dancing on slippery floors and leaving the club too late. In 'Theme from the Chalets' the girls ask ‘Why did we come here? That boy is a nerd,’ while in 'Sexy Mistake' they drip with remorse, 'What did I just say? I will regret this everyday'. Somehow their sweetly harmonised vocals belie the cartoon violence and last orders shenanigans of the lyrics to songs like ‘Love Punch’. But just what is all this fighting about?
Paula says, ‘We just kind of ham it (their familial banter) up a bit in the songs. I mean, we love each other really.’
The Chalets is the perfect place to stay.

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