Along with the likes of Slowdive and Ride, Chapterhouse won praise for their early forays into music but - in keeping with the nature of the shoegazing scene - were soon on the receiving end of a backlash before this subgenre had chance to prosper. However, with the benefit of fifteen years of hindsight, their 'Whirlpool' album proved there was more to them than a group of sixth-formers armed with an array of FX pedals.
As was the case with a few of their contemporaries, Chapterhouse understood the use of rhythm and melody which compensated for their rather insubstantial vocals. It's interesting that this reissue of their record comes with the lyrics included which removes some of the mystique that surrounded their songs at the time.
The beginning of the album is excellent: 'Breather' is a muscular opener and it's testament to the strength of the record that 'Pearl' - a track often referred to as their defining moment - actually sounds submerged next to the considerably eerier 'Autosleeper'. Then comes 'Treasure'; featuring perhaps their strongest guitar melody it also includes the most sublime of choruses where the apparently insubstantial "I'm in heaven. Oh, I'm in hell" lyric actually adds to the faraway dreaminess of it all. Thereafter, 'Whirlpool' loses its momentum, moving into baggy territory on 'Falling Down' and more often than not mistaking experimentation for good songs. Similarly, the early EP tracks - included as a bonus - add little worth but then, just when it seems they had lost the plot, they produce another lost gem in 'Feel The Same', a wonderfully morose 'Come Heaven' and the moody 'In My Arms'. Within the space of seventy minutes, Chapterhouse offer several reasons why they were vilified by the press but on balance - like all underrated bands - their overall reputation deserves some long-overdue reassessment.