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The Chills: Submarine Bells (Slash/Warner Bros.)

Evelyn McDonnell, Spin, April 1990

MARTIN PHILLIPPS has a way with words. During his 10 years as singer/songwriter/guitarist for the Chills, New Zealand's leading folk-punk band, Phillipps has written more than 200 songs. The verbal volley he lets loose on Submarine Bells (the Chills' Slash/Warner Bros, debut after singles, EPs and an album on NZ indie Flying Nun) may have you fumbling for lyric sheet and dictionary, deciphering lines like "Effloresce and deliquesce — carefree sparkling effervesce/Sparks ignite the starry-eyed — soon a supernova." I never knew deliquesce was a word. Phillipps knows. He's rock's most precise enunciator, pronouncing every sibilant and aspirate. And he creates a melody as lilting as the lyric, so suddenly 'Effloresce and Deliquesce' is the sweetest gem ever birthed by such a pretense-portent title.

Total word count of piece: 435

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