Colorama – Good Music – album review

Colorama – Good Music (AED Records)
CD / DL / LP
Released 20 August 2012

The latest album from multi-instrumentalist Carwyn Ellis as Colorama brings beautiful psych pop and electro indie, produced and released by Edwyn Collins on the AED Records imprint.

Multi-instrumentalist Carwyn Ellis has been putting out records under the name Colorama since 2008. Slices of dreamy psychepop to which latest offering Good Music is an obvious sibling.

The first couple of tracks are all electro-indie. It’s lo-fi beats, squelches and tweets with a soothing vocal, a natty line. Opener Old Fashioned Girl has a very retro feel with a big bouncy beat coming in behind the jangle of tambourine and the repetition of the title throughout. It’s unthreatening and yet very intriguing because it isn’t just pure old-skool indiepop; the electro is coming and curiosity as much as foot-tapping makes you play on.

Good Music brings in heavier guitars and a jungle birdsong somewhere very subtly in the background. The chorus brings together a brilliantly catchy riff with a distort-heavy vocal. It’s a call to the dance floor.

But then Winner takes us somewhere, sometime, different. This is a bombastic ’60s ska and soul inflicted rock number with a blunt, reverb heavy vocal. This is music for tight haircuts, a flick of eye-liner and a sharp suit. But it’s not fashion, it’s a feeling. A feeling that makes you want to grind a heel into the dancefloor, makes you want to expel the song’s raw, dirty energy before it eats up your insides. All that and a very alluring Welsh role of the R’s in the chorus.

The promise / threat of Winner is followed up in contrast by the simple celebration of Do The Pump. Percussion shakes, woo-oohs flow. I suspect the only reason the hand claps were left off was so you could happily join in at home, as you shimmy on the front room rug.

Instrumental The War Con brings back that lower, dirtier sound. There is voluminous guitar playing a cinematic Wild West twang. It is the ominous black cloud  on the horizon of an otherwise perfect summer sky.

It’s followed up, in contrast, by some shy, jangly wallflower indie of which Belle and Sebastian would be rightly proud. It’s soft, lilting, totally unthreatening. It’s the heart of an introspective poet expressing his love lyrically. And My Predicament continues in the same, slightly sad refrain backed by a chunkier, warmer chime of guitar.

There is the wry smile here too of observation. Woe Is Me is the frustration of not understanding a particularly infuriating but irresistible member of the opposite sex all set to tingling vibrato strings and swampy shuffle beats.

Nothing is as straightforward a song as you’d expect though and there are little touches, flourishes throughout this number, and indeed the album, which make you smile and skip back to hear it all again. Here it is the juxtaposition of the occasional soaring backing vocal breaking into the lo-fi main, a chorus of angels dropping in on the everyday.

Delaware has a racing heartbeat, sinister keys and strings. The paranoid echo of ‘there’s a situation’ running over the devastation of guitar. This is the dark electro-indie Maximo Park are constantly reaching for and so disappointingly failing to achieve. That sound is right here, effortlessly played out and leaving just enough thrilling creepiness in your heart to make you want to chase the fear by listening again.

Album closer Anytime is the antidote to the previous song though. A gentle, comforting, vintage number. This is psych folk, dreamy pop. Soft, billowing layers of loveliness falling softly on easy-listening lounge.

Yes, this is an indiepop album but it’s not twee; it has teeth, it just chooses to use them for pleasure not pain.

All words by Sarah Lay. You can read more from Sarah on LTW here or follow her on Twitter.

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Sarah is a former editor of Louder Than War and a freelance music writer for numerous other publications online and in print. Co-owner of Reckless Yes Records she has put out music by LIINES, Pet Crow and lots of other awesome bands as well as put on shows by bands including Bivouac, Mark Morriss, Desperate Journalist and Dream Nails. She's an author, user experience designer and digital content strategist, as well as an occasional broadcaster. Sarah is a compulsive collector of coloured vinyl, a believer in the boogie and is in love with possibilities.


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