- "Go big or go home," goes the cliché. But you can go both directions at once, which seems to be the idea behind Chaim Avital's full debut. Alive is full of flourishes that sound like they were made to echo off high ceilings and the occasional column, but it's got a privacy about it as well.
Chaim is also not above trying on some pop, and pretty fetchingly. "U & Eye," featuring Meital De Razon, has an abstracted soul hook ("Why did you have to go?") that gives the rather airy track some heft via a rubber-bandy bass (another one pops up in "Runaway Frequencies," an anthemic instrumental). "U & Eye" makes a reasonable claim that this kind of abstracted house-dub stuff is a new kind of pop, something amplified by the fact that this version is specified on the label as a radio edit.
The hard-edited vocals are in abundance even when he mines vintage new wave on the more overtly songwriterly "Wish," featuring vocalist Snax, a downcast synth-pop number that merges Balearic balm and dark-sider mood—not far from Fritz Kalkbrenner's recent album, in a way. "Love Rehab" follows it with another canny left: here Chaim is expansive and sly, a smoky mid-tempo rubdown that hooks you with the words, "I ain't gonna miss you no more."
Avital pays as much attention to the tracks as he does the songs. "Everything" is a Field-like suspended groove that seems simultaneously taut as wire and like a heated-rock massage. "Don't Shout" is a straight-up bid to get everyone's hands in the air, and don't be surprised if it ends up happening: "I feel your...soul" is a pretty resonant hook, and the track owes as much to anthemic late '90s trance as it does to putatively cooler sources. Like a few others in his realm and generation, Chaim's got a comfort with house's spectrum, and the personality he projects through it—searching, fun-loving, curious—is a pretty nice one to spend time with.
02. U & Eye feat. Meital De Razon (Radio Edit)
04. Wish feat. Snax
05. Love Rehab (Album Version)
06. Runaway Frequencies
07. Don't Shout
08. Who Said What
11. People Can Talk