Every now and again a band releases a debut album, and you can’t escape the feeling of it being ‘their time’. That is the exact feeling I have had over the last week listening to Ask For Angela the debut album from Chroma. It is one of those moments where it feels as though the planets are aligning and the world is going to be taken over by this incredibly exciting three piece from the South Wales Valleys. The band were also announced as the support act for The Foo Fighters UK stadium dates next summer. That was before the release of their debut album. That combined with the important messages within the songs that Chroma write gives further weighting to the argument that the world needs Chroma right now and they are ready for world domination.
Ask For Angela took its title from the not-for-profit safety initiative rolled out to bars and clubs for people who feel unsafe, vulnerable, or threatened can approach venue staff and ‘ask for Angela’. It is vital that people know about these campaigns, and that we can create safe spaces and have initiatives like this to protect people when they are out. By using Ask For Angela as the album title Chroma are raising awareness and using the power of music to help create safety within our communities. The album deals with so many important topics including mental health, masculine toxicity, poverty, violence, positivity messages, standing together with LGBTQ+ Community. These are songs that need to be added to the school curriculum, play kids these songs, sit down together, talk to each other about the importance of standing up against the evils of this world, the importance of accepting difference, and ensuring that people don’t feel isolated, don’t feel alone and feel they can go out into our society, into our communities and feel safe.
After reading the above don’t go thinking that this is an album that is any way hard to listen to. Ask For Angela takes all of these important topics and rams them down your throat in some of the most exhilarating pop songs you are going to hear this year. The songs are uplifting, inspiring and will make you feel ten feet tall. Will make you feel that you won’t to do more and that it is never to late to stand up and make a difference.
Ask For Angela is one of those albums where in some respects it is easy to review as it is so important and so good but is also hard to review as picking highlights seems pointless as the album is one big highlight. However, before leaving you to have the experience of listening to the album I will pick out a few highlights including the opener Don’t Wanna Go Out which sets the tone in the opening seconds. It’s loud, melodic, unbelievably catchy and a chorus that captures a feeling we have all had at times “I don’t wanna go out / But I’m going out anyway”. By the time the opening song finishes you will be swept off your feet and find yourself completely and utterly breathless.
Girls Talk is full of messages of positivity, the importance of loving yourself and not caring what people think. “Who are you to tell me I don’t own my body / Who are you to tell me I’m a nobody”. Remember what I said about putting these songs on the school curriculum, letting the kids hear songs like this could do so much for their own self worth and belief in themselves. The other thing to mention about this song and every song on the album is how Katie, Zac and Liam sound like they were all born to be together in this band. There has always been something special about a three piece, and when you get three musicians like this who just instinctively seem to know what the other is going to do you have the perfect combination for a band.
Don’t Mind Me is centred around mental health, how we all need to do more to talk about this, the need to support each other. The world we live in right now is in a very dark place. The services are not out there to provide the support that is needed, we all need to be kinder to each other, accept difference and everyone has mental health and we need to look out for each other.
Woman to Woman is a call to arms, a call to solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, its about standing up against the TERF culture, calling out those that claim to be a feminist but then oppress others “Woman to woman / That’s some strong allegations / Gonna fight until we know the truth / Gonna fight until we know what’s better than you / Trans women are women / And you can keep your letter”. The video was filmed in the toilets in Newports finest Le Pub.
I Wanna Be Where You Are is another moment of relentless, energetic pop music that needs to be played as loud as possible. Life’s A Bitch opens with a moody, dark sound that instantly gets inside your soul. The lyrics seems to be dealing with inequalities in the world “How can you be in your position of power”, and how often people get into power who should never be there, and they don’t care about doing what’s right. Look At Me is another powerful song which raises the issues of masculine toxicity “Look at me Look at me Look at me, I’m a big man”. Final mention goes to Over The Hill an anthemic ending to an album that will be sure to be featured on many end of year lists, and a definite contender for the Welsh Music Prize in 2024.
Ask For Angela is quite simply an album that needs to be in everyone’s album collection. It is fun to listen to, whilst making you stop and think. I have attempted throughout the review to pick out some of the important messages, I may have mis-interpreted some of the lyrics, which if I have I can only apologise. The one thing I know for sure is that this is an album that needs to get the world talking and make us all want to do more to make this world a better place.