Matty Wise takes us to the limit with a new review of Valerie Chang’s extended play.

Valerie Chang, extended play EP, Indie Rock

Valerie Chang’s EP is a four piece effort that sounds as if it’s trying to find a niche. I like that none of the songs sound particularly similar to each other so you get a good sense of what she and the band are capable of. That being said, the band is clearly better at certain sounds than others.

Chang’s EP starts off pretty sweet, opening with “I’ve Got”. The song is nicely layered with some good hooks from the electric guitar. The band sounds much more like a cohesive band than Valerie’s band. Her voice is somewhat pushed into the background by the growls of the guitar, and comes off as a catchy accompaniment rather than the centerpiece. I could see myself giving this song another listen occasionally. It’s when her voice becomes the focal point that I’ve got a problem. Even in “I’ve Got” there were definitely occasions when she was just flat, but it was forgivable because the electric guitar helped distract me. But when I listened to the next song, “The Goodbye Kiss”, I was simply annoyed when I heard a wrong note or her voice flatten.

Now if my calculations are right, she is only nineteen so I can attribute some of it to her voice simply not being fully developed yet. But being a choir boy (yes, I was in church choir, and no, I can’t sing. Ask Pat for my rendition of “Lady Marmalade”) (vooley voo mocha-choco-latta-MARMALADE. -ed.) I know that all she needs are a few voice lessons that will help her sing from her chest rather than her head. What I mean by that is when she goes into her higher register it sounds like the voice is straining, and often flattens or gets scratchy when maintaining a high note for more than a second. But Valerie can sing. When she’s using her lower register, like in Cold Jeans, she sounds sexy as hell, crooning a strong and more mature sound. She just needs to get a little tune up.
As for the content of what she sings, the lyrics are relatable, but I can’t say there was anything awe-inspiring, life-altering, or even particularly interesting about them. If she were to make a full length, I could not imagine it going very far if she simply writes about love as she has here. Oftentimes, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this given my track record, she’s not personal or introspective enough, and I’m devoid of any empathy when I hear something that’s supposed to be full of emotion like “so one last thing don’t you ever forget, goodbye, goodbye”.
I found “Note From Jailbird” to be an interesting attempt at her being bad ass, and I really like the kinda pop punk sound. The guitars deliver a nice grinding noise, but the lyrics and her voice don’t quite back up the edginess of the guitars the way I hoped it would. And that was how I felt about the EP in general. Everything didn’t feel quite together. I’m curious if this band will grow, or if this is the last we’ll hear of Valerie Chang as even she describes herself as “[having] trouble staying focused on one thing too long.” That certainly fits the EP and its many directions.

matty wise