Champ de Mars Releases New Album

Cutting into the central harmony that supplies “Leaves in Winter” with its greatest vitality, a brisk but boldly colorful lead vocal is here to tie every eccentric element in Champ de Mars’s sound together. This isn’t the first time the band has delivered something ambitious in subtle packaging, but while the anticipation leading up to their most recent studio offering Halloween Leaves has been considerable, they haven’t bitten off more than they can chew in its eleven songs at all. Champ de Mars is manifesting their destiny in this record, and it all starts with giving us everything with maximum strength. 

Although steeped in a lot of cryptic lyricism, Halloween Leaves’ “Ghosts in the Attic,” “Porch Apologies” and “Leaves in Fall” make it clear that this band wanted to give us a solid guitar album this spring. There’s simply too much love for the string play and, even without any serious virtuosity, the mathematics of the material here for me to draw any other conclusion. Whether it be the percussion, the bassline, or a fleeting piano in “Leaves in Spring,” the guitar is a constant shadow in this LP, stalking us with its harmonies and eagerly hinting at a greater sense of emotionality incomprehensible through the absorption of linguistics alone. 

I love the beefiness of “Monsters in the Kitchen,” “Leaves in Fall” and even “Ghosts in the Attic,” and when matched up with the way “Benders in the Basement” and “Wedding Dresses and Fancy Watches” were mixed, we start to get a pretty good idea of what Champ de Mars would like to sound like on the live stage. Despite the glow of the verses in “Leaves in Winter,” a rock mentality keeps the audience somewhat separate from the artist crooning behind the mic, and it’s in this field of separation that we feel just how much intimacy exists in the instrumentation separates from any words. The poetic value is stronger sonically than one might expect, which suggests a live performance for the ages in the band’s future. 

Honestly, I would particularly like to hear the single “Porch Apologies” in concert a lot sooner than later primarily to get some juxtaposition between the studio and stage versions of the song. My gut tells me that Champ de Mars isn’t going to hold back from getting a little experimental with the general boundaries of this content when they’ve got the right venue to do so, and I think this could be the best track here in early incarnations of such a scenario. 

I’ve been following the work of Champ de Mars this year, and I must say that they’ve yet to disappoint me when it comes to putting together a complete, engaging full-length studio album from scratch. Halloween Leaves doesn’t shake the floorboards with its volume or crush us with a lot of boisterous guitar solos, but its insistent presence is nevertheless a dominating force to be reckoned with even in the poppy moments within the tracklist such as those in “Benders in the Basement,” “Little Blue Lines,” and “Leaves in Spring”. All in all, Champ de Mars should be credited with dropping one of the hotter indie rock sets of 2024.

Michael Rand

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