★★★★

 

Over 20 years ago, a band named Chavez wrote and released two all-time great records, toured with bands like Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth and Pavement, and then disappeared. 

The brainchild of multi-disciplinary master Matt Sweeney, the group might not have officially ever broken up, but they sure shut up, releasing no new material since 1996’s Ride The Fader.

 

And now, with little fanfare or advance press, they are back. Their new EP Cockfighters is mighty slim – it’s a mere three tracks, and only just squeaks past the ten-minute mark – but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in invention.

 

As ever, the core of the band’s appeal is Sweeney’s ability to obfuscate the obvious; his way of playing lots of notes in order to reveal surprisingly, satisfyingly little. At its core, a song like ‘Blank In The Blaze’ is very simple, its chorus almost radio-friendly, Sweeney’s voice rich and relatable. And yet on top of that clarity is heaped a healthy dose of chaos, and Chavez’s enigma-like refusal to stay still remains their presiding characteristic.

 

Cockfighters is over far too soon, and after a two decade-long wait, seems like a mere morsel rather than the feast some might have hoped the band’s return would be.

 

But it is reminder enough of the band’s singular talents; a startling, exceptional footnote, and an impetus for new fans to check out the two albums with which Chavez made their name.

Cockfighters is out now through Matador/Remote Control.

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