Ris Paul Ric Purple Blaze

[Academy Fight Song; 2005]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: bedroom acoustic, singer-songwriter, sing-song
Others: Holopaw, Beck, Q & Not U

This is chRIS PAUL RIChards (formerly of Q & Not U), his guitar, trademark falsetto, and a couple microphones. Purple Blaze is a collaboration with producer/electronic artist Tim Hecker, and Richards has recently taken his show on the road with Black Eyes percussionist (and fellow DC scenester) Dan Caldas. Anyone who knows the Q & Not U track "Soft Pyramids" (S-O-F / T-P-Y / R-A-M / I-D-S) will instantly feel familiar with Purple Blaze, as Richards' breathy falsetto jumps immediately into the spotlight on the bouncy title track. My favorite songs here are when Richards splits the difference between his old band and his quieter new project: "Run Up Wild on Me" in particular is a slinky, dancey number with a simple but affective electronic beat; it's the album's best song. "Hanging from the Grapevines," "Colonialism," and mood piece "D y C n" are all deathly somber, which makes the bouncy "The Sleeparound," buried amid another handful of slow tracks, a little jarring.

It's clear that Richards still wants to retain some of the more fun elements of Q & Not U — the album's end is saved from despondency by head-nodder "Valerie Teardrop" and some whimsical whistling on "I Wish You Love Me." Ultimately, Purple Blaze isn't as interesting as any single Q & Not U record, but it certainly shows promise. At least a handful of tracks here would fit nicely on Richards' former band's records, even without any additional full-band treatment; and for an artist standing (mostly) alone for the first time in nearly a decade, Purple Blaze is impressive. No, it won't interest anyone who wasn't pretty down with Richards as a singer and musician already, but this is definitely a worthwhile record.

1. Purple Blaze
2. Run Up Wild on Me
3. Hanging from the Grapevines
4. D y C n
5. Colonialism
6. The Sleeparound
7. Up in My Window
8. Demo Was a Runaway
9. P l B z
10. I Wish You Love Me
11. Valerie Teardrop
12. Daft Young Cannibals