Lately Fred Thomas is integrating more of the strangeness—the experimental instrumentation and Neutral Milk Hotel-inspired mysticism—of his solo releases into the music of his group Saturday Looks Good to Me. Where most of their releases contain sparkling pop in the vein of Phil Spector and Motown, their new album takes a broader approach. This EP that precedes the album does the same, but in a hazier, weirder way. It seems a common approach: make the single more extreme of a departure than the album, setting fans up to accept the new sound when they hear the album and realize the band is still “pop”, just in a less predictable way. Cold Colors isn’t completely strategic, though. While the meandering of the first three songs offers few of the usual pleasures of their music, while remaining at least interesting, the last two tracks are immediately enjoyable. “Idiots” has a simple (idiotic?) melody setting up for a more pleasant, climactic one, entwined with an especially Jeff Mangum-like evocation of the past’s mysteries. The closer, “Spiderbite”, begins as introspective folk and slowly makes its way to choppy guitars and enough haunted energy to scare listeners into running straight to the record store to get the album.
// Notes from the Road
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