There was an exciting, albeit brief, period in the early 1990s where bands of limited resources but unlimited ambition managed to not only get their records out to the public, but to make a splash in the larger music world. Bands like Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Guided By Voices and The Grifters were tied into the catch-all pen of lo-fi rock. Sonically that might be true, but on closer inspection, all these examples were pop/rock acolytes stuck with twitchy equipment, first take warts and all, and a refreshing lack of automation to gum up the passion.
Coming perhaps a decade or so too late, The Deafening Colors arrive with a slightly homemade sound (arguably a better, cleaner one than their forebears) but, once again, the pop/rock heart is firmly stitched on their collective sleeve. “Another Afternoon” is deceptive in that it starts with acoustic strumming, the slightest hint of a palm-muted guitar and the distinctively unadorned vocal from John Arthur. When the track rolls into a full band arrangement with guitar counterpoint, drums and backing vocals, the song becomes a melancholy bit of indie rock arriving virtually unexpected. “Island Full Of Christians” is short and sweet at two-and-a-half minutes but bounces gleefully on a jangle-pop vibe and a nicely constructed chorus.
The track that surprised me most was the dreampop closing track “Slow Burn” complete with the disembodied, reverb-laden vocals and mood of the subgenre’s best examples without the fussiness. Again, exemplifying the first-take energy of that ’90s ethic, The Deafening Colors keep things on point and on time, all the while holding your interest along the way. And no, the actual recording quality is not a messy, boombox variety but it doesn’t sound like the mating rituals of robots either. This is energetic, intimate pop music made by a band that deserves attention.
Everything runs in cycles – not just popular music, but the world in general. If a band like The Deafening Colors helps usher in another indie revolution like those halcyon days in the nineties, that can’t be a bad thing after all.
The Deafening Colors – Island Full Of Christians