Most reviews of the Colour start off with a little quip about how despite the spelling of the band’s name, the five-piece actually has roots in Orange County, California. With the band’s first EP, The Colour Are Out & About, the Anglophilia didn’t stop with just the band name. It was a trademark of Wyatt Hull’s vocal delivery, which sparked a number of comparisons to Robert Smith‘s voice. But it seems that a few things have changed in the Colour camp.
The opening (and title) track of Devil’s Got a Holda Me reveals that Hull has toned back on the faux-British accent and, musically, the song focuses on a less prominent side of the Colour. The first EP treaded the line between garage indie-rock and new-wave revivalist (and was for the most part lumped into the same category as the Strokes‘ albums), but “Devil’s Got a Holda Me” takes a more straightforward ’70s rock ‘n’ roll approach. When I first heard this song in my friend’s car I wasn’t sure he had bought the right CD. Gone were the little guitar flourishes I had come to love in songs such as “Mirror Ball”; gone were the song structures the members built their previous EP around.
The second track, “Save Yourself”, is much closer to the Colour I was used to. When the angular guitars similar to what we heard on “Tambourine” resurface and are fleshed out by production by Jaquire King (Modest Mouse, Kings of Leon, Tom Waits), it’s quite a pleasant experience.
“Save Yourself” is closer to the songs on the band’s first EP, but it’s more akin to what bands such as Convoj and Division of Laura Lee, both forerunners of Swedish indie rock, are putting out. This is especially true in the verse styles, which waver in influence between’70s rock ‘n’ roll and late ’70s and ’80s garage/punk. There are even a number of guitar solos that echo from a time when kids had longer-than-shoulder-length hair, camped out for Kiss tickets, and dreamed of buying a Pontiac Trans-Am.
The final two tracks on Devil’s Got a Holda Me are pretty similarly structured and paced and continue the band’s manipulations and explorations of rock music. Both are well written and executed, but neither is especially inspiring. “Until We’re High” does a better job of getting the listener involved by including a sing-along, and Hull’s voice is more playfully instilled into the song here than it is on “Chariot of Gold.” “Until We’re High” also features a number of more noticeable guitar flourishes than the more monotone and less dynamic “Chariot of Gold” does.
The EP isn’t entirely disappointing, but it made me less curious and more concerned about the Colour’s forthcoming album, Between Earth & Sky. The band’s reinvention here may end up being an amazing study of the influence of music that has come before and its incorporation into more conventional rock arrangements, but Devil’s Got a Holda Me simply lacks the edge of the band’s previous work.
E-Card (stream Devil’s Got a Holda Me)