One of the first acts that I remember shaping my current music taste was Palma Violets. From the first single, to the first time I saw them live I was hooked. Seven years later, Palma Violets are no more, quietly disbanding in March of 2017. Five years on from the end of Palma Violets, co-singer/song-writer Chilli Jesson is now stepping out on his own two feet, releasing an EP that feels like it’s as much for him and it is for us.
Evidently therapeutic, St. Vitamin is a four song release where each track leans on the one before it, perfectly designed to follow what came first. The EP definitively marks out Jesson’s place as an artist who deserves to be remembered for more than what he’s done already. St. Vitamin marks a fresh start, a beginning again this time under his own name.
Opening track the titular 'St. Vitamin' is the Mike Tyson of punchy openers. Starting the track by taking a moment, Jesson takes one last breath before launching into a fast and frenetic indie number. Clocking in at just under two minutes, barely a second is wasted, as Jesson speeds through lyrics. References to everything from Loftus Road the home of Jesson’s football team (QPR), classic cars, Martin Scorsese and more are par for the course, with every second used wisely. Co-written by Justin Hayward-Young (The Vaccines/ Halloweens) and Will Bloomfield, it’s as good as an opening track gets.
Love Is A Serious Mental Illness is inspired by a Plato quote and brings the focus to conversing about mental health in a bouncy indie-pop way. The strain a relationship can take when your mental health is at its lowest, as well as the desire to replicate what we see in the movies is all openly discussed. Additionally, the back and forth ones mental health goes through is shown through contrasting emotions verse by verse. Opening lines such as “I feel hysterical and evangelical, so let me tell you love’s a treat”, are steeply contrasted by “it’s a tug of war, it’s a padded door, and pleasure gets so rare.” The highs and lows are battling either side of the chorus, yet the track itself remains fun and exceptionally upbeat.
WDTYCWDWTHY (We Didn’t Tell You Cos We Didn’t Want To Hurt You), was described by Jesson as the “stepping stone into this new musical landscape” and it really shows. The chorus strays somewhere close to a cult-like chant, almost entering anthemic territory. It’s a tough song to describe, very much raw and filled with emotion. Equally, the music video (directed by Willem Olenski) captures the emotions in its purest form. Following Jesson as he listens to the track in it’s final state for the first time, it’s deeply personal. Unlike many songs you will have heard before, WDTYCWDWTHY is unique in the very best way.
If the first three songs didn’t make it clear that this EP captured a lot of Jesson’s inner thoughts, White Room shows that this is a deeply personal group of tracks. When songs focus on the dark times, when you just need a release it’s easy to shy away from being totally honest, this is not one of those songs. With the verse by verse pondering on if it’s time to make your exit, followed by the increasing desperation with the repetition of “white room” in the chorus, it’s a song filled with passion. A song three years in the making, it marks the final note of an exceptional debut EP.
It’s fitting that the original badge of Chilli Jesson’s beloved QPR is based on that of the borough of Hammersmith, Written on the latter is “Spectemur Agendo”, which translates to ‘let’s be judged by our acts,’ and if St. Vitamin is the first act of a long solo career - then it’s one hell of a start.