I got my hands on Mississippi-based Colour Revolt’s debut EP a couple of years back and was immediately impressed with the blend of raw angst and clever songwriting. Jesse Coppenbarger really lets loose vocally, at times sensitive and at times coarse.
Plunder, Beg and Curse marks the band's full-length debut and first offering for Fat Possum. The album, which according to the band has long been in the works, showcases songs that neither rush their own development nor overstay their welcome. Most are about social confusion and religious rebellion, no doubt due to the musicians' Deep South heritage and Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The music mostly follows a blueprint of few essentials: angst-ridden vocals, chaotic instrumentation, a few soft moments of sensitivity, all the while keeping things melodious.
Naturally, the best moments are those in which they meander from the formula. “Moses of the South” is a quieter arrangement: spacey atmospherics, feedback, and a backbone of subtle drums that unfolds slowly. Coppenbarger sings softer with much more soul, never overtaking the song -- the best scenario possible for the band. “Innocent and All” is the loosest track here, spotlighting guitars that seem to search for form all over the verses, then finally rein in just the slightest bit on the chorus, resulting in a moment of perfect, rewarding sense. Coppenbarger follows suit, allowing his voice to exist in tandem with the arrangement, providing the track a sense of balance and cohesion that ultimately is what's captivating.
But Plunder, Beg and Curse shows that Colour Revolt is too obviously defined by Coppenbarger’s vocal performance, regardless of whether the band wants it that way or not. It's just his style of singing: He is on top of the mix, and too often he is too over the top.
The vocals are brimming with over-singing and uncontrolled emotion, and the music (particularly the guitars) displays such a conspicuous, distorted crunch. But in a way it reminds me of the late '90s -- Sunny Day Real Estate and Braid and Texas Is the Reason. Those were the roads that led me to the diverse world of independent music in the first place, and at best, Colour Revolt is an excuse to be pleasantly nostalgic.
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