When you think of terrific pop bands from New Zealand, the first name that probably comes to mind is Crowded House. It may not be long before the second one that comes to mind is the Chills. Though considered a “new” group here, the Chills have been around for the better part of a decade, releasing a slew of singles, a compilation LP and, most recently, a full-fledged album of new material, “Brave Words.”
The fact that these four lads are experienced, road-tested pros went a long way toward explaining why their local bow on Thursday at Bogart’s was so bracing, powerful and well-developed--not unlike the stunning debut made at the same club a few months ago by Throwing Muses, with whom they share some sonic similarities. Actually, the Chills’ sound recalls several bands, old and new. But while you could play an extended game of spot-the-influence, the band itself would win, because it ultimately transcends all those influences.
The group covered considerable ground Thursday, and came across in command each step of the the way. Though the Chills seemed to favor moody, melodious pieces topped by gifted, prolific tunesmith Martin Phillips’ breathy vocals and 12-string guitar strumming--like “Wet Blanket” and “Ghosts"--this unassuming-looking quartet often generated surprising power on such racing rockers as “Look For the Good in Others and They’ll See the Good in You.”
The performance was sharp, perky, pretty and--for a band called the Chills--eminently warm.