Cherie Amour’s first full length album, Spiritual Ascension, is a testament to the band’s diverse capabilities in every aspect of their music. In a masterful blend of genres, Cherie Amour successfully weaves pop-punk, post-hardcore, and modern hip-hop into one cohesive sound. Spiritual Ascension, released on November 4, 2022, has a track list of 11 songs (Welcome, Sin City, Low n Lean, Letting Go, Mind’s Eye, Love’s Not Your Thing, God Be a Woman, Spiritual Ascension, Losing Control, In My Head), four of which were released as singles prior to the album’s debut (Sin City, Love’s Not Your Thing, Letting Go, Losing Control). Each song is emotional, technical, and complex, and thanks to Cherie Amour’s excellent control within their sonic transitions, even their most daring choices flow seamlessly throughout the album.
Cherie Amour is no stranger to the music scene. In practice, the band has been active since 2017; before signing with Equal Vision Records in 2021, the band played together as “One Life To Lead.” However, as a result of their changing style of music, bandmates Trey Miller (vocals), Casey Reid (guitar), Brendan Willis (guitar), and Ronie Sherman (drums) felt that the original name no longer represented their sound, and voila! “Cherie Amour” was born.
As a result of their evolving style of music, Cherie Amour describes themself as nu-punk, or a blend of genres. “It was amongst our goals to not try to prescribe to a certain genre. We wanted it to be all-encompassing so that you can get out of it what you want and need, and we felt that nu-punk was the best way to describe that simply,” says the band. Their exploration of this self-titled genre spans across two releases: Internal Discussions (2021), their first release as Cherie Amour, and Spiritual Ascension (2022), their debut album and latest release.
Spiritual Ascension, building on the band’s first release, artfully demonstrates Cherie Amour’s growth into a whole new level of musical and emotional complexity. In an interview with AltPress, Casey Reid described how the band wants Spiritual Ascension to have an emotional impact on their listeners: “If we can inspire someone to do something or make something, that’s pretty top-notch. And for me, when they listen to our music, I want it to have an emotional impact in any way, shape, or form. Doesn’t mean you should feel sad or happy. I just want you to feel something.”
The album opens with Welcome, an overture whose distorted dialogue and clashing instrumental ambiance work together to create a wonderfully chilling introduction. Immediately following is On Deck, whose strong guitar, fast drums, and distorted vocals are reminiscent of emo-rock. Near the end, there’s a slight change in tempo and rhythm, which gives the final section of the song the feel of a breakdown, drawing its audience in before heading into the first of the previously released singles: Sin City.
It’s evident as soon as Sin City starts that the nu-punk genre blend is coming in full force, making it one of the most memorable songs of the album. It opens with an ethereal synth cadence, before blending it into major guitar chords that sound like pop-rock. Finally, it falls back into a style influenced by post-hardcore, with heavy guitar, distorted vocals, and a dissonant breakdown. The transitions in this song are incredible; Cherie Amour has a talent for using complementary musical themes and melodies to move between tempos, genres, and instrumentation in their songs.
Following Sin City is Low n Lean, a song that combines the rhythms of modern hip-hop with melodic styles of pop-punk. While the majority of its lyrics remind me of radio-pop, Cherie Amour makes an interesting choice to use stripped instrumentals and focus on the strength of the vocals themselves before heading into each chorus. I was especially (pleasantly) surprised by the transition into rhythmic French lyrics and distorted guitar near the end of the song. Once again, the band has masterfully and successfully exceeded my expectations.'
Letting Go takes the undercurrent of hip-hop rhythms from the previous track and shines the spotlight on them with a strong vocal focus. More seamless transitions combine stylistic drums with sustained guitar chords before metal-reminiscent instrumentation complements the verses. Mind’s Eye follows, with a dark, funky bass contrasted by high synth and electronically-enhanced vocals. It uses a very unique combination of sounds to build the melodic and rhythmic harmonies behind the pop-influenced vocals, before heading into another rap breakdown in the middle.
Love’s Not Your Thing uses a compelling blend of genres and instrumentation throughout; it starts with a straight, rhythmic brass beat and isolated vocals before heading into an emo-rock feel. However, Cherie Amour also makes the choice to mix hip-hop instrumentation and vocal rhythm for the verses. There are so many layers to the band’s instrumentation – the constant use of brass, synth for accent points, drums for rhythm and flares, and funky guitar riffing emphasizes the astounding technical capabilities of each member of the band.
God Be a Woman follows Love’s Not Your Thing as the focus track of the album. I was shocked at the sound – once again, Cherie Amour brings a huge shift from its previous songs, using catchy, pop-influenced vocals with a softer, simpler backing. While God Be a Woman stands out less to me than other tracks on the album, I appreciate how it shows off the band’s ability to weave quieter moments into their music.
Spiritual Ascension, the title track, is next, and it feels like a slide back into the “Cherie Amour sound” that the band developed throughout the album. The mix of rap lyrics with rock instrumentation is impressive, and it leads into a surprisingly melodic bridge incredibly well. It’s especially important to note that little pieces of the song’s music uses ascending and descending scale patterns, which seems to be a nice nod towards the name of the track and album.
Losing Control starts with a heavy, isolated guitar riff before building into one of their signature emo-rock-type choruses.. but everything changes in the last 45 seconds of the song, where the band brings in influences from EDM, a bongo breakdown, and lastly, a much heavier, metal section. Finally, In My Head brings back the ethereal synth and electronically-tinged vocals, driving home the feeling of “ascension.”'
Overall, for an album that has so many different sounds, Cherie Amour’s first full-length release, Spiritual Ascension, does a surprisingly good job at tying everything together into an album that has a unique, cohesive sound. It’s evident that the musicians are capable of putting together both technically challenging and musically riveting pieces, and the phenomenal production quality of the album is equally important to note. In describing their developing sound and the process of making Spiritual Ascension, Cherie Amour noted that they wanted their listeners to get from their music whatever they needed from it: “When you listen to this record, we hope it brings you peace of mind that we’re all trying to find our place in this world, and no matter what you’re going through you will always have the people around you.” – And thanks to their diverse sound and insightful lyrics, there really is something special there for anyone that’s willing to look.