Colourmusic’s story strokes the senses before a note even hits the air. Here is a band with origins in both Oklahoma and Yorkshire; a band that blends hardcore and “Oklahoma Sex Rock”; a band whose exposure to-date peaked with an impromptu music video shot at SXSW with Wayne Coyne for The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
This is also a band with a well-known preoccupation with colours, specifically Isaac Newton’s Theory of Colour and Sound. Hence their name. Hence their output to date, which includes the Red EP, the Yellow EP and their well-received long-playing debut, My _____ Is Pink. With third album May You Marry Rich, are founding members Nick Turner and Ryan Hendrix – along with bassist Colin Fleischacker and drummer Nicholas Ley – offering up a rainbow canvas of sound or an attuned study in blues, browns and purples?
At times, it’s difficult to say. Opening salvo The Duchess pulls no punches, its dense, molasses-paced thuds offset with skittering additional elements that flesh out the track. It comes across like MGMT at a low ebb; like a slightly dirgier Gardens & Villa; like Suuns sans their minimalism. Lead single Dreamgirl ’82, on the other hand, positively buzzes with latent energy. Its raw, overcharged track arrives at a formula that crops up time and again throughout the album: electronic bass juxtaposed with languid, reverberating vocals.
The theme extends to the guts of May You Marry Rich, which are made up of its four strongest tracks. Rendezvous With Destiny picks up the baton – and the pace – as it cascades forth. Suddenly Colourmusic are performing with abandon, their adroit combinations forming what sounds like a dancefloor filler with a dark past. A high-pitched lick goes so far as to court radio airwaves. Silvertape adopts a rather more refined approach, its soundtrack-like qualities not unlike New Look‘s more nuanced numbers. In fact, it’s arguably the album’s standout track, and Turner’s sterling performance behind the mic yields unmistakable shades of The Jesus And Mary Chain.
Satyricon runs its preceding track close for the top prize. With tumbling percussion that can only be described as irresistible, peace pervades the soundscape. It’s a more comedown than climbdown; a subtle change of tack that continues matches the album’s texture. It then mutates into a seven-minute odyssey in which ideas are tossed into the air, gathered up from the studio floor and incorporated into the mix. It’s as messy as it sounds.
Audacity Of Hope rounds out the album’s quintessential quartet with buzzing, ear-bending overdrive, but it’s quickly followed up with Overture’s fury and bombast – the listener’s ear perhaps a little ill-served – before Horse Race lends momentum to the decline that marks the album’s second half. In isolation, it’s ear-pricking, but as part of the whole it starts to feel like an addendum. By this stage there seems to be little new to hear, any aural flourishes instead serving to simply add detail to the bigger picture. Given the benefit of the doubt, it’s intentional homogeneity for a greater purpose – though follow-up track Snake In The Mouth presents the other side of the coin, sounding like a jam session in which no ingredient is deemed unworthy.
Despite jarring closer Idiot – a crunching, grungy, six-minute tribute to Iggy Pop‘s brutal debut record of the same name – it seems that Colourmusic were right to describe May You Marry Rich as their “purple” album: its experimentation is narrow, its mode virtually constant, yet given time there are shades, hues and tones to discover. It may be a rewarding exercise in extraction, but only time and persistence will tell.