Thoughts on 'Still Got Legs'

31 August 2011

Chameleon Circuit are a band that I have been excited about for quite a while, they combine two of my favourite things - proper decent music * and Doctor Who.  Their first self-titled album was great, it had some really good tracks on it including Blink, based on the David Tennant episode of the same name, and Count the Shadows taking it's roots in the episodes where we first meet River Song - Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead.

A while back Chameleon Circuit released their second album - Still Got Legs, and I have finally got round to writing my thoughts about it down! The first thing to say is that the both the record and album production quality has raised ten fold from the first album, this isn't to discredit the self-titled album, rather to show just how much the bar has been raised in Still Got Legs.  

While the album is made of 15 tracks, I would say that only 12 of them are full tracks, the others being intro / outro and filler tracks.  The album opens with 'The Subwave Signal' which is made up on electronic synthy goodness, also known as a short intro track which fades nicely into 'Regenerate Me'.  The song is obviously written during the David Tennant era with the lyrics 'ten personas I've walked the earth...' and has the 10th Doctor's dark feel to it.  The song gives a brief introduction to the idea of who the Doctor is and what he does which creates a good introduction to the album and a solid opening.

The album then heads into 'Nightmares' which continues the dark tone, the distorted guitar backing Liam Dryden's vocals, the production here works perfectly.  It is a really beautiful sounding track.  This again transitions into the much lighter song 'Travelling Man'.  There are so many references across the Doctor Who universe, including a meander into Sarah Jane Adventures! As the track goes on the music gets simpler and simpler until the last 30 seconds where you are just left with a vocal harmony which is great link into the Everything is Ending.

Everything is Ending, track 5, is absolutely stunning duet between the characters of Amy and the Doctor.  In parts it reminds me of some of the duets from Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog which is high praise! After hearing from Amy and the Doctor the next track on the album, Mr. Pond, tells the story from Rory's perspective, again stunning lyrics written as a love song about Amy, but also as a warning to Doctor heavily quoting from the series "why can't you see what you're doing to Amy."

Kiss the Girl, based upon the episode in series 5 - The Lodger, summarises the episode in 3 minutes.  Generally speaking I wasn't blown away by this track, so I'll move on to talk about the beautiful piano driven filler track 'Knock Four Times' which despite only lasting 36 seconds sounds great! 

'Teenage Rebel' really breaks out of the dark moody sound, into a well needed pop-rock sounding track.  It also picks up the tempo of the album which gives the album a new burst of energy as the album heads into 'Big Bang Two'.  The track picks up the tempo even further as Charlie McDonald matches the pace of the concluding episode of series 5 storyline.  One of the things that I love especially about this track, and a couple of other tracks such as 'Eleven' is the homage to the music on the show, with rifts and snippets from Murray Gold dropped into the album's music in a way that doesn't sound tacky and awful!

After 'Big Bang Two' and 'Eleven' the album drops the pace again into the 6 minute epic 'The Sound of Drums'.  Jumping back into David Tennant era we hear the song of the Master. The music moves the album back to a darker tone, as we hear some of the backstory to the Master and into where we first re-meet the Doctor in the episode 'The Sound of Drums'.

'Silence and the End of All Things' is the farewell of Matt Smith to Amelia Pond, again what makes this track work so well is the link between the track and the music and dialogue from the original episode, there are hat-tips through out to tracks such as 'Little Amy' which is played as the Doctor is going back in time at the end of 'The Pandorica Opens'

The final full track on the album, 'The Doctor is Dying' is a tribute to the final episode with David Tennant acting at the Doctor. As through out the album there is a lot of digital effects, especially adjusting the vocals, which in almost all cases work really well.

Throughout the track the pace is built and built to a perfect level and 'The Doctor is Dying' would make a perfect closing track to the album, however unfortunately the ending is spoilt by the totally skippable acoustic outro track - 'Still Not Ginger'.  While it adds a little bit of humour to the album referencing a lot of what the Doctor says post regeneration, including the album title 'legs… still got legs' and lamenting the fact the he is 'still not ginger' the track just doesn't fit with the rest of the album.  It is a really disappointing end to an otherwise impressive album.

So in summary Still Got Legs is a great album with some fantastic standout tracks (especially Travelling ManMr. Pond and Big Bang Two), I love the way that each track flows into the next creating an album as a whole, rather than just a collection of tracks which was one of the weak points of their previous album. I love how they reference both the script and the music from Doctor Who, not in a tacky fanboyish way, but in a way were thought and care has been put into it.  My advice - go and buy it!

* Yes, that was a quote by David Tennant referring to Chameleon Circuit. Don't judge me. Back to all posts