Colorama, Good Music
Focused, crisp and multi-faceted
It’s a simple title, but a multi-faceted album. The fifth from Cardiff-based Colorama, produced by Edwyn Collins, ranges from psychedelic pop to late-summer British whimsy to sinister groove-locking and is propelled throughout by the liquid voice and wit of their lynchpin, Carwyn Ellis.
Ellis, who has worked with many well-known names (from UNKLE to Franz Ferdinand), formed Colorama in 2008, and has guided the outfit of ever-shifting personnel through both Welsh language and English language recordings and the death of double bass player David Fletcher in 2009. Experience has clearly helped him hone his craft: Good Music, sung exclusively in English, sounds focused and crisp. From wry ballad-over-backbeat opener “Old Fashioned Girl” to poignant finale “Anytime,” their touch is deft and their momentum high.
There’s a keen sense of humor at play, so Ellis can pull off lines like “She’s a classy dame,” without causing cringing. Likewise, the tight retro-rock of “Winner” unleashes the chat-up line, “You’re an amazing kind of creature/ You’re educated, you’re my teacher,” and comes up smelling of roses. It’s all about the gentle, guileful approach, which brings to mind very English staples like Caravan or The Kinks, but adds its own tints with Ellis’s distinctive Welsh burr.
There are plenty of pleasing stylistic leaps. Some tracks recall the melancholy whimsy of The Clientele, while “Do The Pump” is surely the coolest song ever to subtly parody Kenny’s Seventies hit “The Bump.” “The War Con” is a dark instrumental with spaghetti-western riffs, while the confessional “My Predicament” is a broken-hearted sigh of longing (“Why do I feel so fucking empty? When you were around there was plenty”). The single “Delaware” reveals they also excel at fuzzy dream-pop with spacey motorik rhythms, almost as a casual afterthought. Colorama’s palette is broad, but their brush strokes here are vivid and brilliant.