Win&Lose – Chinese Football


The long-awaited return of Chinese Football comes in the form of Win&Lose, a conclusion to their “Game Trilogy”. Released as the finale of the narrative laid out in “Here Comes A New Challenger!” and “Continue?”, the Wuhan-based band comes to terms with their shortcomings. Tinged with their signature mathy riffs that hide a melancholy beneath its melodic waves, the album focuses on the internal struggle of incomplete dreams in the face of realism. Reflecting on summer days, fantasies, and inadequacies, lead singer Xu Bo sounds more poignant than ever before. On “The World Is Splitting in Two”, his breathy vocals gradually explode into harmonized chants that promise a brighter tomorrow. Reminiscing over a failed relationship on “One Way Train”, a reflection in the passing window of a train conjures good and bad memories alike. A lost battle doesn’t mean a lost war; there’s maturity in his contemplations of winning and losing. While the instrumentation is as lush as ever, it’s the vocals that shine the most on Win&Lose. The multitracked vocal harmonies have a deep emotional weight to them and the inclusion of female vocals on songs like “Human Lost” breathe life into the hypnotic guitars.

While Chinese Football has always incorporated the complexities of math rock and midwest emo into their sound, their melodies have always remained most important. Win&Lose is no different as the pop structures and melodic transitions take precedence over everything else. The end result is incredible: a stream of indie rock rhythms that tuck away intricacies in the riffing. The emotional resonance within the album stems from guitarist Wang Bo and bassist Li Lixin working in tandem to create a bubbling nostalgia from the innermost subtleties. Though the songwriting evokes a sense of regret, the instrumentation pushes forward feelings of hope and optimism. The concept of wins and losses thrives on this delicate balance and Chinese Football ensure that it never teeters too far on one side. While the extended sections of songs like “Wuhan” and “Goodbye” drift around too long, they eventually bring it back down to Earth. These minor flaws can sometimes dilute the effectiveness of the fist-pumping climaxes but for the most part, the band manages to keep their longer sections in check. Their best project since their debut self-titled in 2015, Win&Lose captures the brilliance behind Chinese Football’s subdued approach to midwest emo. Sentimental at its core but ever striving to put one foot in front of another, the beauty of the chords gives way to its message: the game of life goes on and on.

Must Listens: The World is Splitting in Two, One Way Train, Dinosaurs Went Extinct in the End


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I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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