“Inkstains” is the 2009 debut album from Aussie hip-hop artist Phatchance. In hindsight, I can understand exactly why he’s nabbed spots touring with The Herd and Bliss N Eso, because “Inkstains” has got to be one of the most enjoyable and consistent debuts I’ve heard for quite a while.
Driving brass instrumentation leads the opening title track, and from the off-set Chance’s strong rapping slices through the fray, rising clear and balancing out with every other part, highlighting not only his vocal skills but the high production values instilled in this release.
Dealing with topics such as the difficulty of a music career, alcohol problems, and relationships, inspiration has been drawn from a myriad of situations. They may not all be brilliant feel-good hits of the summer, but as it’s put in “The Catchy Song”:
“That’s not true either, but I’m happy a lot / I just don’t make songs about the candy shop.”
Ultimately this sits perfectly with his music as well. Though that’s not to say this is a depressing album – Chance’s brilliant lyricism walks the fine line between emotive and moving, introspective, and entertaining. Filled with the kind of playful jibes at James Blunt and Kanye West in “The Catchy Song”, and the McDonald’s verse at the end of “Invisible Queen”, we’re given another side to Chance – one that ultimately benefits the album.
To compliment this, the variation in musical sound lends the album some movement. So many artists release material that all seems to blend together. “Inkstains” introduces guest vocalists (though not in excess!) like the brilliant Sam McNeill on “I Don’t Know”, and 360 and Smiles Again on “The Catchy Song”. Incorporating jazzy piano melodies on “Invisible Queen” then drawing in distorted guitar chords during the climax just shows the contrasts that Chance can bring together to form something cohesive and unified.
“Inkstains” is ultimately a solid debut, and the work put into it shows. The vocal delivery is brilliant, and with the lyrics manage to be both witty, serious, and heartfelt at the same time. Musically the album changes tone through a diverse range of melodies and instrumentation. This is a great debut. Let’s hope there’s more amazing material to come!