For the past few months, hype about Colourmusic has been thrown around from every direction. This happens often enough to bands about to release their debut, and it rarely amounts to more than the ephemeral fame inherent to the Web 2.0 world. But this time the hype has a strong basis.
The members of Colourmusic have built a peculiarly engaging mythology around themselves through an eccentric blend of performance art and publicity stunts. They have been known to theatrically kill and then resuscitate band member Nick Turner during concerts, to try to hypnotize audience members in order to sleep with them, and to even attempt to merge all five members into one personality, called Roy G. Biv, which required them to dress alike, grow similar beards, and even date the same girl. Their antics don’t stop at their songwriting. All of their songs are based on Newton’s Theory of Color and Sound, which led them to record the Red and Yellow EPs, with songs recalling — for the band, at least — those respective colors.
Luckily, all of the effort that goes into their presentation doesn’t hinder their musical creativity. Since Turner and Ryan Hendrix formed Colourmusic in 2005, they have been honing their songs. Their debut album, titled f, monday, orange, february, venus, lunatic, 1 or 13, consists of the songs from those first two EPs, along with an entirely new song. In some cases, the songs are more than two years old, but they benefit substantially from this period of incubation. Every harmony is pitch-perfect, every solo is executed flawlessly, and the band’s slightly askew pop sensibilities are always in full force.
The chant-like choruses on songs like “Put in a Little Gas” and “Yes!” compete wildly to get stuck in a listener’s head. Turner’s high warble takes center stage on the more subdued “Rock and Roll Polar Bear,” which features the rather astute lyric, “If I buy you alcohol, will you give me what I want?” And it’s hard for me not to smile during the triumphant horn crescendo of “Spring Song.”
There’s nothing absolutely new here, but Colourmusic have found their sound and worked out all but the most negligible of mistakes. This album represents that all too rare specimen: the pop album on which every song has the potential to be a hit single. I don’t think it a stretch to call it one of the best albums of 2008 so far.