Music can be a powerful trigger, generating synaptic responses in the listener that can cause extremes of emotion, opinion, feeling and memory. Some music does this with a real battering ram approach, grabbing the lapels of your brain and shaking a response from it, but sometimes a more subtle tactic can be by far the more effective at stirring a response in your head. And it is this power-through-delicacy method that Old Colours have mastered, with deadly effect.
Mountains is the debut EP proper for the four-piece after a smattering of digital single releases, and comes at the one year point in the bands history. What it presents is four songs of achingly beautiful and wistful indie-pop, echoing in folk influenced sounds but managing to stay bang up to date with plenty of little twists and turns and some excellent production.
Anyone who has enjoyed Lucy Rose’s excellent debut album “Like I Used To” will be struck by a lot of the similarities. Vocally Zoe Mead occupies the same breathy, gentle territory, her voice hauntingly emotional but controlled and full of the promise of hidden depths that on occasion are revealed in an anguished cry. The overall sound also has a lot of similarities, blending effortlessly an acoustic guitar or piano base of contagious folk melodies and plenty of effects filled lead guitar sounds that move seamlessly from Psychedelia and noise-pop through more traditional indie tones to noises more often found on dance records. Also drawing parallels is the quality of the song-writing. These songs have been lived with and worked on and just fit together seamlessly, both as individual pieces and as a whole record.
But, that in many ways is disrespectful to the band and these songs, as they still have their own fingerprint, down in no small part to the work of Daniel June and Jamie Warren, a driven, often funk edged rhythm section. Some of Jamie’s drumming in particular is synoptic of the whole EP, subtle but clever and expressive and utterly irreplaceable, the secret weapon of the group in many ways and the principle reason my high point of the record is the crescendo to final track “As We Run”.
This is an important recording not just for Old Colours, but for the music scene in both their home area and as a whole, pointing towards a viable future for guitar based indie-pop music. It proves quality new pop songs can still be based round six strings, can still be lyrically strong and relevant and contain a decent cross-over appeal that should propel its creators on to much bigger and better things. This is a key stop off on what I think is an exciting journey that should be leading upwards.
First published by wwwgreenmanmusic.biz