Fill in the Blank
You probably already know what seems to be half the story behind the baffling title of Colourmusic’s latest release. Last year, in an attempt to freshen up its brand, social networking site, and music portal MySpace announced that it was changing its logo to simply My____. The idea, so the suits said, was to let MySpace users conjure up any image that could fit in the blank spot previously occupied by the word “space”. So it would seem that this Oklahoma-formed band just took the ball and ran with it, incorporating that bit of marketing into the title of their new album, My ____ Is Pink. At least, maybe. But, if so, that’s only half the story. Colourmusic is a band that is very interested in Isaac Newton’s Theory of Colour, so much so that they’ve taken to naming each one of their releases based on a particular tint to suit the mood of the songs. (Who knows what the band will do once they run out of the colour spectrum, but we all know that Crayola has made a mint in inventing new shades.) And there you have it. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this band, considering that there’s not a lot about them out there in the world of the Interwebs, and I didn’t even get a lousy press release.
First things first, though. Colourmusic share a kinship in weirdo sounds with Sooner State natives The Flaming Lips and have even gone so far as to open for them. There’s definitely an experimental edge to Colourmusic, though it’s one that has less to do with the psychedelica of The Lips and, instead, leans more towards industrial and metal – though there’s a tinge of pop hookiness that tries to rise to the surface. That’s all evident on album opener “Beard”, which is a song that isn’t sure what it wants to be. It starts out with all sort of dissent bells and whistles (and is that a theremin I hear in the mix?) before it morphs into noisy pseudo-speed-metal against a pounding drumbeat, all leading to some electronics and drum noodling occurring around the one-minute-and-15-second mark. And then it stops. And then it starts up again. Honestly, there are so many twists and turns to “Beard” that I’m not really sure if it qualifies as a “song”. More like “noise”. And you might like that sort of thing, but, me, I prefer hooks and melody. You know, actual songwriting. Craft. Not just ideas thrown against the wall with the intent to see what sticks.
There are interesting ideas and scraps of tunefulness to be found on My ____ Is Pink, but you have to look hard for them. Actual songs are surrounded by pieces of jagged metal and aural bombast, and the album is often weird for the sake of being weird. For instance, the track “Whitby Harbour” consists of precisely three minutes and 23 seconds of the sounds of waves lapping up against a shoreline. Atmosphere or filler? You decide. Elsewhere, the epic ten-minute “The Little Death (In Five Parts)” starts out with some stoner riffage but then spends much of its back half simply droning on one singular ghostly keyboard chord, bits and pieces of tinkling piano rising to the surface like flotsam and jetsam from a shipwreck. Then there’s “The Beast With Two Backs”, which is 44 seconds of sound effects that are reminiscent of a cow being slaughtered. “Jill & Jack (A Duet)” is another attempt to be avant-garde, but at least even in its one minute and 45 seconds of brevity, starts out with a bit of structure – it’s a kind of jittery pop song – before it breaks down and sputters, only to come roaring back to life. Man, My ____ Is Pink spends a lot of time just trying to freak you out!
But let’s talk about the strengths of this release, the points where things actually coalesce into colour and shape. This tends to happen, more or less, in the album’s second quarter. “We Shall Wish (Use Your Adult Voice)” is practically an Animal Collective homage, aping the sound of that group’s Feels, right down to the polyrhythmic drumming. And it’s a quite good homage, as there is – even in its laboratory of sound – a traditional verse-chorus pinning to the track. “You For Leaving” recalls the harmonies and orchestral majesty of the Polyphonic Spree, though I hear a little Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd there too. “Tog” boasts cavernous, earth-shaking tribal pounding and kind of feels like Lodger-period Bowie. “Dolphins & Unicorns” has a world-beat cadence to it that’s infectious, at least until the song briefly flames out and rebuilds itself again. And, then, if you skip to the very end of the record, you’ll find “Yes!”, which appears to have appeared on other Colourmusic releases and is an all-out rip-off of early Flaming Lips, but a pretty good rip off at that.
I have to award some points to Colourmusic for trying to be adventurous and for trying not to be bogged down by the tyranny of song structure. However, there is a sizable chunk of My ____ Is Pink that is formless and tuneless. It takes a certain taste to really appreciate what they’re doing here, and I’m not sure if this “music” is to my personal liking. If you like to be challenged by sounds and feel that songs should wrestle you to the ground with sheer inaccessibility, then this is the album for you. For the rest of us, My ____ Is Pink is a real curio. In all honesty, I can’t make up my mind if this is brilliant or just sheer showmanship (or another s word that runs four letters and rhymes with ship) for the sake of being flashy. For that reason, I’ll cite the middle ground and feel that this album only partially succeeds in its objective to be the most abrasive face melting piece of sonics to be released this year – docking a point for the fact that Colourmusic made the arty, pretentious move of letting waves crash for more than three minutes. I probably won’t revisit My ____ Is Pink because I simply don’t find it to be a particularly memorable album. It is the sound of a band trying too hard to be clever by half, and, if I can be candid, that’s pretty much, unless you’re a glutton for punishment, all the story you need to hear.