Chase Rice
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Chase Rice ‘Ignite The Night’ – Album Review

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I’ll start this off by giving credit to Chase Rice. I thought, as with many, that he was riding on the coattails of the bro-country trend, getting his break on the scene purely he was douchey-looking enough to pull off a desperately narrow viewpoint couched in party anthems and ill-advised rapping. But, I would like to say publicly that I was wrong, Chase hasn’t been copying the bros all this time. He’s actually been making this same kind of music on multiple independent albums since 2011, this same, boring, misogynistic, clichéd pile of crap that he and every other new artist (and established) are producing in 2014. So I was wrong. Chase wasn’t copying the bros, he was actually one of the first ones to really take it to the next level, and for that monstrosity I can only condemn him.

Still, as the tides begin to minutely turn in country music, he’s flogging that (hopefully) dying horse to the point where he’s far more bro than the bro kings, Florida Georgia Line. We forgive the douchey shades on Eric Church because he actually produces great music and it’s a character for him (mostly), but when it comes down to artists just thinking they’re cool and trying to shit cool all over my speakers (for the record, I’m allergic to cool), somebody needs to speak up. After all, if we’re to combine the standard record and the two different deluxe editions (sorry, party editions) then Chase has obnoxiously released nineteen tracks on his first major label album (it’s a joint partnership between Columbia Nashville and indie Dack Janiels). Fourteen on the standard. Four more on one edition. And the inspirationally titled ‘Whoa’ on a separate version. What is significant about this is not only do they somehow think they’ve earned the right to have that many songs on his “debut” (as far as many are concerned), but just a glance at the song titles gives away the entire theme of the album. Girls, drinking, partying, sex, driving, and a couple of small town settings thrown in for good measure. If this is pushing boundaries as Chase so self-righteously claims, it’s doing it very subtly.

As an interlude, here is the full list of tracks available for purchase on the various editions of ‘Ignite The Night’. ‘Ready Set Roll’, ‘Do It Like This’, ‘Beach Town’, ‘MMM Girl’, ‘Beer With The Boys’, ‘Carolina Can’, ‘We Goin’ Out’, ‘Gonna Wanna Tonight’, ‘Look At My Truck’, ‘U Turn’, ’50 Shades of Crazy’, ‘What’s Your Name’, ‘How She Rolls’, Jack Daniels And Jesus’, ‘Whoa’, ‘Party Up’ (featuring Colt Ford, obviously), ‘Country In Ya’, ‘Best Beers of Our Lives’, ‘Ride’. I literally have no questions about the subject matter of any of them. I know what I’m going to get before I hear it, and in that he becomes one of the most predictable artists out there, straight from the off. Chase isn’t going to offer you any smart conversation or even any real emotion, because it’s all about partying and objectifying women, y’all. I mean, that’s my day to day life, obviously. Three tracks alone stand out as having a little more to them, such as ‘Carolina Can’ (an ode to his home state), ‘Look At My Truck’ (using his truck as a metaphor for how far he’s come in life) and ‘Jack Daniels And Jesus’, which lo and behold, actually goes deeper into the “bad trying to be good” cliché and makes it a little more desperately depressing. Even with that, we get the feeling he’s still working from an idea endlessly played out in country music.

When one actually delves into the music, it becomes apparent that there’s little room for identifiably country sounds in the mix. Chase drifts through mid-2000s angsty and aggressive pop/rock and pop punk, turning to R&B for a “sick beat” and plenty of EDM for the tracks that are the most digitally edited (auto-tune is a key part of basically every song), even moving into rap and hip hop as the album reaches its completion. There are heavy guitars, drum loops, synths and the fake token banjo that Florida Georgia Line practically pioneered, aligning himself with such a trajectory, while tracks like ‘U-Turn’ use the verses to push things even more electronic/rap to the point where the whole song could easily have been produced on a laptop. If that wasn’t enough, he takes the awful R&B of Jason Aldean’s ‘Burnin’ It Down’ and pushes it even further towards commercial saturation with ‘Ride’, a somewhat ambient, 100% electronic and overtly sexual offering that has no reference to country whatsoever.

I get the feeling that the only reason Chase is in country is because he’s from North Carolina, and likes writing about small towns and trucks. Unfortunately for him, recording non-country music and calling it pushing boundaries does not mean that it is, it just means he’s been wrongly labelled and is stupid enough to believe the hype. This is a self-indulgent collection that clearly shows the missteps taken by the genre in the last few years that allow such artists to reach the mainstream, and also shows Chase moving from standard bro-fare to trying to incorporate every other genre into his music just to sound different. It’s forced, and it sounds horrible. Here’s to hoping mainstream country fans feel the same way.