Sophomore album with more sophistication
Chicago based alternative rock artist Stef Chura reels us in on her sophomore album Midnight with lyrical tangents and melodies that fade away like unfinished poetry. Debut album Messes found Chura’s most intelligible emotions exposed through scribbled melodies and hazy vocals. The June 9 release of Midnight uncovered a new attitude in Stef Chura. Her vocals no longer find subtlety in the backdrop of musical mayhem, but rather play in the spotlight as flammable melodies are sculpted around her voice. Midnight is crafted with intention, as Stef Chura screams into the void uncaring of whether someone’s listening.
Chura molds her inner monologue into beautifully harsh harmonies on Midnight. As if hovering her fingertips over a switchboard of hard-rock material, Chura alters her sound with whims of musical direction. A modern punk sound with vocal distortion and synth undertones, Midnight begs to be listened to.
Notable tracks “Scream” and “Degrees” bare the raw intensity of Chura’s intuition and artistic vision. You can hear drummer Ryan Clancy tearing into the drums, pinpointing the importance of his backbone instrumental talent. Reckless rock song “Method Man” sounds like momentary guilt in Chura’s mind: “My life in a spindle/ see it unravel.” “Sincerely Yours” revels in lyrical ambiguity as Chura writes with venomous entitlement to take what she deserves: “I’ve done much better than this/ still I’m waiting here at the end of this list/ these demons do not resist/ cause I’m fucked up and I’m ready/ I’ll take what I know you can’t give.” Midnight reaches complexity with the fine-tuned production direction of Will Toledo from Car Seat Headrest. Written with the collective vision of Toledo and Chura, “Trumbull” and “3D Girl” contain more mature musical arrangements. With multi-instrumentalist Toledo juggling vocals, synths, guitar, bass and piano, “Sweet Sweet Midnight” transforms into the spoke song of the album.
Midnight finds itself tucked along a bookshelf between riot grrrl and contemporary lo-fi rock. The album is a distraction from the monotony of everyday living, as subtle synth and grandiose guitar weave together like harmonic screaming. Although Chura’s voice is uniquely genuine and cruelly indulgent to her listeners, the music seems dependent on the expertise of Toledo to deepen the musical experience of Midnight.