Champ de Mars – Halloween Leaves (LP)

Indie rock is an identity and one that has to be portrayed with a demeanor more indicative of humility than exaggerated confidence. While I don’t know that it’s fair to say that Champ de Mars are chasing their version of this identity solely to be true to form in their new album Halloween Leaves, there’s something both unique and definitively classic about what’s driving their sound in this latest release. In songs like “Monsters in the Kitchen” and “Ghosts in the Attic,” Champ de Mars begin to reveal parts of themselves through both the music and the lyrics that simply weren’t accessible to us previously, all the while making a point of leaving the audience unsheltered from the sonic carnage entirely.


“Leaves in Spring” and “Benders in the Basement” do indeed wade into alternative waters akin to something from the old guard, but even with this being the case, the energy behind the music feels very modern and, dare I say, a bit angry in this situation. This band is meant to be on the road, and their restlessness is perhaps what gives this LP so much edge.

“Leaves in Winter” and “Little Blue Lines” simply wouldn’t be the same without the presence of their guitar parts, and had the six-string been replaced with anything else, I just don’t know if these songs would hold the same meaning. There’s a pop sensibility to the vocal in “Porch Apologies” and “Wedding Dresses and Fancy Watches” that I want Champ de Mars to try and expand upon more than they have, and in some ways, I think they show off a bit more courage in their creativity just by including these two songs here. The former could be a keystone single here, while the latter could easily join it in such a capacity, and though they’re no more powerful than any of the other tracks in this LP are, they certainly don’t hide the priorities this crew has right now. They want to stay raw through the rhythm, even if it means sacrificing some element of commercial acceptability.


Conceptual and respectful of its predecessors but still demonstrating that this band can step outside of the box, Halloween Leaves is as evocative as its title would imply. Champ de Mars still have room to continue growing as a band but tracks like “Leaves in Spring,” “Leaves in Fall,” “Leaves in Winter,” and “Monsters in the Kitchen” show them owning a signature persona no one else can claim as their own. It’s hard trying to distinguish yourself and your sound from that of the many other talented groups in the international underground these days, but after a lot of years hard at work both inside of the recording studio and up on the stage, Champ de Mars has something that no one else can take from them, and it’s available in eleven distinct movements via Halloween Leaves this April. From what I can tell, this isn’t going to be their last release of note at all.

Mark Druery