Brilliant Colors Introducing Brilliant Colors

[Slumberland; 2009]

Styles: noise pop, punk
Others: Wire, The Silettos, No Age

These noisy pop bands are proliferating like disaster movies. Yet unlike the spectacularly hopeless film genre, this musical trend has been welcome and in many cases enthralling. Bands like No Age, Cause Co-Motion!, Times New Viking, and Eat Skull have each recently delivered strong records of throttled, frayed, melodic pop. Still, with its surface-level simplicity and seemingly obvious sonic limitations, it’s tempting to analyze this entire genre with the release of each record. That, or make sweeping, careless commentary like “noise-pop’s newest album, Introducing Brilliant Colors sounds like The Go Go’s covering Pink Flag.”

Truth be told, Brilliant Colors — a San Francisco-based trio consisting of principal songwriter Jess Scott, Diane Anastasio, and Michelle Hill — hurl forth powerful if not surprising hooks from their dense, urgent music. With just 10 songs in 24 minutes, the band’s debut album, Introducing Brilliant Colors, manages to evoke chunks of 60s psychedelia, 70s UK punk and no-wave, 80s jangle-pop, 90s indie-rock, and 00s minimalism. With foot-to-accelerator punk-rock abandon, it charges unrelentingly through each of these wall-of-distortion ditties, scrappy riffs and all. Beneath this guise of power and art damage, however, is a fragile beauty that makes this album as angular as it is catchy.

“English Cities” uses a ringing, tense riff to punctuate Scott’s sparse lyrics. “I wanna I wanna I wanna/ I gotcha big giant flaws,” she sings in her soaring drawl, with a diction that hearkens back to Joey Ramone. For its sheer abrasiveness, Introducing is a primal guitar record, but an apt rhythm section is ultimately what propels each track and paces the album. “Mythic” squirms with punk angst above a serpentine, Wire-esque bassline. Elsewhere, the pounding chorus of “Yell in the Air” is accentuated with explosive drumming. Despite its prowess in such areas, Introducing suffers at times from a lack of craft. Songs like “Over There” find themselves in pop limbo, uncertain of whether to cling to a melody or break under their own repetition. And yet these flaws do little to slow the album’s raucous surge.

Remaining steadfast to its roots, Slumberland Records has been releasing music by bands like Brilliant Colors for 20 years. From Velocity Girl (the label’s founders), to The Aislers Set, to the more recent Cause Co-Motion!, Slumberland has slowly forged ahead, delivering this cloudy-lens pop music with little deviation or interruption. Introducing Brilliant Colors doesn’t go so far as to challenge this tradition, but it throws in enough wrenches to make it an exciting addition to the catalog.

1. I Searched
2. Absolutely Anything
3. English Cities
4. Yell in the Air
5. You Say You Want
6. Over There
7. Mythic
8. Short Sleeves at Night
9. Motherland
10. Should I Tell You

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