Two high school seniors started recording strange noises together on a 4-track and a laptop. They combined their pop melodies with experimental effects and found sounds, working on tracks in each other’s bedrooms. When they went away to separate colleges, they continued to work on the tracks, sending them back and forth to one another in various stages of progress. The result is one of the year’s most promising debut albums.
It’s appropriate that Blind Man’s Colour first gained exposure by contributing to an Animal Collective covers album. The band’s sound is extremely similar to Animal Collective’s, although BMC is not quite as daring or refined. Yet being derivative of Animal Collective, early Pink Floyd or anyone else doesn’t seem to be a concern here. You hear not career ambition in the music but sonic ambition. The soundscapes are often grandiose, and BMC reveals a willingness to experiment that likely foreshadows great things to come. The fact that the album came before the record deal and the blogosphere hype (including a Twitter shout-out from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste) is probably to its advantage.
Behind all the artifice, behind the production and underwater effects, is some simple but solid songwriting. The catchy, cheerful melodies combine with the psychedelic production to create a trippy beach-music feel appropriate for their St. Petersburg roots. Like Brian Wilson, BMC’s Kyle Wyss and Orhan Chettri have a knack for coupling well-crafted traditional melodies with other-worldly noises. The album’s quality level is pretty consistent throughout, but the high points are “Anxious Place” and “Jimmy Dove.” (Kanye West favorably blogged about the latter when BMC was label shopping.) The able, ten-minute-long closer, “Shells,” eventually devolves into seashell and ocean noises and the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar.
Blind Man’s Colour now faces two main challenges. First, to put together a live show. Even by the time the two freshmen put the finishing touches on Season Dreaming, they had never played a full set at a paying gig, and their lushly produced sound may be difficult to translate to the stage. The second challenge? To find a voice independent from their major influences, especially Animal Collective.