Reviewed by: Christian Oliver
Published: 20 January 2011
lp: self titled
This release by The Colourphonics is an interesting and eclectic collaboration of songs that shows off a group of talented musicians who aren’t afraid to take a walk on the wild side. No surprise given their influences include artists as varied in style as ABBA and ZZ Top. The trouble however with including numerous genres and ideas in the one album is that you can lose a sense of cohesion and risk leaving the listener without something to hold onto. The music on this album includes blends of rock, funk, fusion, blues, reggae, jazz and latin. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The first track on the album; ‘Looking Back At It All’, is an explosion of fusion, rock, soul and funk. The lead vocal is shared between the female and male vocalists in an interesting contrast of styles, when she sings, the music supporting her is soulful and energetic, when he sings it transforms into a rock anthem. A strong opening track.
Up next is ‘Good Within You’, a track that rolls along for the first 40 seconds sounding like a funky rock jam when suddenly out of the blue, horns kick in and the song begins to channel a blues/reggae vibe. The male vocal sounds great on this track as his voice lends itself to a more laid back style of song.
The Colourphonics have an interesting habit of changing tack mid song and completely throwing you off the vibe you thought they were running with. This is particularly evident on track 3, ‘Find A Home’; it begins with the kind of choppy wah wah guitar that would make Shaft feel at home. Soon after however, the tune merges into a dreamy little ditty where the female vocals shine through. She carries the tune well and it’s a pleasant little venture away from the first two tracks. Keys are the feature of this song and provide a pleasant counterpoint to the vocal melody.
‘My Daydream’ for me is the highlight of the album, it is immediately a lot less full than the other tracks on the record, which isn’t a slight on the other songs, but sometimes less can be more and in my opinion, for all the smoke and mirrors one can incorporate to razz up a song, there is nothing more powerful than simple melodies, utilising space and knowing what to leave out rather than put in. This track achieves that. It’s simple and suits the lyrics perfectly.
‘Sunset’ is an instrumental mix of Santana-esque guitar solos, Latin horn lines and funky keys contrasted with heavy rock overtones. It’s certainly impressive, but seems somewhat out of place in relation to the rest of the album. As a live track to show off the instrumentalists undeniable talents I’m sure it would be very successful, but in this setting feels a little off kilter.
Other highlights on the album are ‘Blossom Haze’ which features Nick Sverdloff on saxophone. This track is soulful, eclectic and has a real live feel about it. Nick, of course tears it up. I have had the pleasure of working with Nick in other musical ventures and he is a very talented individual.
The album is rounded off with ‘Underwater’ a mellow, somewhat trippy ballad. The sparse, barely there backing vocals give it a real spooky vibe as it builds and builds and builds into a desperate and emotional plea. A roaring guitar solo to finish off this track would be perfect but instead, it reaches its musical peak and is then gently brought back to earth.
This is definitely a band that would shine in a live setting. However, capturing that same level of energy and intensity on an album is never an easy thing to do. The Colourphonics have given you a taste, I suggest you go out and sample the whole thing.