Review: Cheem Fly On Technical, Melodically Intricate ‘Downhill’

Cheem - Downhill (2017)

Cheem’s new record Downhill shows a tangible progression of maturity for the Hartford emo-pop punk five-piece. Since the release of 2016’s Making a Planet, the band has been impressively prolific in both the amount of shows played as well as songs written (even releasing a dope split with their CT peers Budris).  Downhill features an ample 15 tracks, all of them embracing the band’s technical prowess and dual vocal approach.  

As it is an unashamedly emo-revivalist record, the band pulls from all of the genre’s qualities across the emotional indie-punk-pop spectrum. Opener “Freakazoid” strikes the first two components as an introduction to the record. A post-adolescent flail of angst, irregular song structures, and various guitar textures, all its sound and fury serve as a perfect primer for the bigger highlights that will follow.

Early single “Kate”  can easily stand with their Making a Planet tune “Joy Division T-Shirt” as one of the group’s best songs.  Featuring one of the album’s most memorable vocal melodies, it strikes a balance between its soft spoken verses and raucous chorus.  “Instar” follows suit by showcasing the band’s technical prowess and multi-part songwriting chops.  The latter features an especially brief and borderline experimental pause of harmonies before jumping back into full gear with danceable rhythm guitar that the band sometimes employs.

Throughout the remainder of the record, the band refrains from making obvious pop songs and instead pursuing more challenging punk compositions. In addition to the band’s obvious technical virtuosity (in pretty much all facets but hot damn those drums), Downhill is very much a studio record. Every song is so decked out with various little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it textures it encourages repeat listens just to catch them all.  Fortunately, with such a dense sprawl of emotional and textual energy, the band plays it tastefully by keeping many of the 15 track tunes between two and three minutes.

Listen to Downhill by Cheem below:

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