By Susan Park
On first listen, something may appear a bit off with Coup d’etat. It is only after checking the lyrics that it becomes apparent — a lot of these songs don’t rhyme. Stripped of his backing band The Graveyard Gang, local Calgarian Chris Gheran’s sparse second album is almost entirely a solo effort — often just him, his guitar and his words. Great words so densely packed they don’t need to rhyme.
Since his colourful and flat-out catchy debut Monster, Gheran seems to have gotten fully immersed in historical warfare. The disc is covered in war memorabilia, pictures and quotes. The songs detail the lives of riflemen, sergeants and APC gunners — loss and lost innocence, bravery and cockiness. The album’s eight-minute centerpiece, “The Ballad of Sergeant Malone,” brilliantly tracks a soldier from childhood to eventual suicide, detailing the horrors he took home with him. Yet these bleak tracks are separated by Gheran’s signature sweetly skewed love songs.
It’s debatable whether the back-and-forth between dark, lengthy war epics and innocent heartbreak ballads is successful. On the one hand, it breaks any chance of a consistent theme. But at the same time it keeps the album from being too heavy, too oppressive in its lyrics. And where else will you get to hear about trench warfare and zombie love on the same album?