Modern Rituals

  • Record Label: Domino
  • Release Date: Aug 17, 2010

Mixed or average reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 14
  2. Negative: 1 out of 14
Buy On
  1. Zig-zagging cross-country has afforded the band a subtle grasp: while West Coast sunshine glows from their every chord, they are not bound to Pacific pop principles, and their dexterous handling renders Modern Rituals a beguiling proposition and Chief a band to keep a very close eye on.
  2. Like their forebears, these LA beardies get the plaudits for taking raw, honest emotions and richly infusing them into every moment of their music.
  3. With the power of their harmony and a few well-arranged standout tracks, Chief have managed to assemble a respectable record, and escape being written off as yet another batch of copycat folkies.
  4. The arrangements are dense and intricate and, together, Chief make an accomplished, purposeful noise--but it's rarely matched by depth of melodic imagination. For a slow-burner, Modern Rituals needs a little more fire.
  5. Modern Rituals is a vibe record, and it could use a magic bullet single. But anyone fumbling under a car seat for the perfect thing to play while descending to the beach from Malibu Creek State Park should reach for this first.
  6. Uncut
    Pleasant enough, but The Magic Numbers do this stuff for warm-ups. [Sep 2010, p.87]
  7. Earnest, melodic, and slow to unfold, there's not a bad song on here, but surprises are few and far between.
  8. Chief could learn something from fellow California nostalgics Best Coast: Atmosphere is great, but so are sprightliness and hooks.
  9. The transcontinental breadth of the band's influences keeps Chief from coming across as pallid piggybackers of any one scene, but for a group that hasn't yet demonstrated an ability to nail down a particular sound, keeping so many balls in the air could be stretching its talents too thin.
  10. Musically, the song structures are as bog-standard as Britpop, the lyrics constantly teeter on the edge of nonsense, while the lack of any real change in style save for rotating the guy on vocals means the tracks continue to merge into one another even after a few listens.
  11. It's as if Chief wanted to sound as grand as possible, but by wanting to do too much, they ultimately end up accomplishing very little. This is catchy, easy-going stuff; but the obvious and at times, plaintive feel of the record doesn't exactly beg for repeated spins.
  12. 50
    Modern Rituals feels like an encouraging first draft, waiting for the distinctive touches that would complete it.
  13. Q Magazine
    There's a late sunburst of sweet vocal harmonies and folk rock riffs on closing track Night And Day, but it's not enough to save this dreary album. [Oct 2010, p.104]
  14. The band's full-length debut, however, still turns up drier than Laurel Canyon. Like most of Modern Rituals, "Nothing's Wrong" because it was assembled piecemeal in Pro Tools, stiff and lifeless.

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