FN557 Street Chant - Hauora (2016)
In this post-internet era, where jarring sonic changeability is often just as indicative of artistic insecurity as it is mutating-market-savvy, the consistency in tone and content of Auckland, New Zealand three-piece Street Chant comes as refreshing as their songs are unsettling.
Following a half-decade that's seen them tour internationally in support of bands as acclaimed as The Lemonheads, The Dead Weather and The 3Ds, as well as multiple trips to SXSW, CMJ and Big Sound, the very-long-awaited release of second full-length Hauora finds the band picking up where their lauded, New Zealand Music Award-winning debut Means (2010, Arch Hill) left off. A compact, energised and complex set of songs plumbing the intriguing depths of the Urban New Zealand Condition in the early 21st century, Hauora wears the influence of the city it was made in. From the Saturday night booze binges of Sink to the petty shared-house bleakness of Pedestrian Support League, the album explores in sardonic humour and hook-laden melodies the highs and woes and creative life in Auckland City.
Hauora is that rarest of sophomore efforts; an album that continues a pre-existing trajectory without resorting to repetition or routine. Given that its name is taken from the Māori word for the four aspects of personal health - spiritual, physical, mental and social - it's fitting that Hauora plays like an exorcism of sorts. There's catharsis palpable throughout, while Edrosa's pervasive optimism and energetic wit brings the album's intense energy full circle.
Though the band's composition has gone through some changes since Means - while Edrosa and bassist Billie Rogers remain, drummer Alex Brown was replaced by Chris Varnham (Wilberforces) post-recording - their modus operandi remains as progressive and active as ever. Over a choppily-strummed acoustic guitar, Edrosa closes the album on Hauora Forever by stating plainly, tongue ever-so-slightly in cheek, "If every day was a Sunday / Id forget to be depressed." It's apparent that with the release of Hauora, Street Chant have little to be sad about.