Tirzah and Micachu make oddly compelling music together: minimal yet always moving, balancing the sweet and the sour with intriguing volatility. Colourgrade is no exception to this rule, putting hypnotic lyrics to avant-garde beats in a manner that sometimes feels aimless but is certainly never bland.
The title track, which opens the album, is downright menacing, Tirzah’s voice wrapped in robotic reverb and ominous whistling bouncing off the walls, but most other tracks have a more functional groove to them. Take Send Me, with its stomping beat and intimate vocal performance (“Let me, let me heal, then wait for more / let mе, let me heal, wait for morе / baby, don’t be long, need more to feel strong”) or Tectonic, which takes the sounds of Memphis horrorcore to their most alien extremes.
The tracks on Colourgrade work better at relatively short lengths, as their structures are often very simple. Crepuscular Rays centres around a phaser-laden guitar and vocal combo, and while the idea is nice enough, six and a half minutes of noodling pushes its viability too far. Meanwhile Recipe is a fine example of the short but sweet, as punishing bass hits intermingle with dazzling pads and Tirzah’s lyrics, simultaneously nonchalant and totemic in nature.
If a devil-may-care attitude is the album’s strength, it also can be a weakness. Songs hit or miss by chance, the product of unmoderated experimentation which can so easily become indulgence. The slaloming chord sequence of Sink In is beguiling, but the random squalls throughout Hive Mind are distinctly off-putting, and a lack of quality control causes one to cancel out the other. The record ends on a strong note with Hips, as fizzy synth rhythms and tuneful singing saves the day, but unfortunately Colourgrade too often sounds like unrealised potential.