Columboid: We Were One

[14 April 2011]

By Matthew Fiander

PopMatters Associate Music Editor

What a strange grind Columboid crafts on We Were One. The band deals in sonic textures that cover a wide spectrum, everything from subtle groans to abrasive swells. The high-low interplay of keys on opener “Guy Got Kilt” buries you immediately in this underbelly sound. Before you can settle, though, things shift into the more spacious rumble of “INJAR”, which finds the band at its best. As much as they tap into goth brooding with those haunting keys, it’s when you can hear the specter of clashing rock and roll that the band is at their most compelling. The over-the-top grind of “The Abhor” channels Iggy Pop as much as it beds down in horror rock and thereby becomes the most vital song on the record. The trouble with We Were One, though, is the vocals. These sonic landscapes, for all their ham-handed darkness, do seem carefully crafted and intricate in their way. Ryan Hamilton, though, tries to tap into his inner Nick Cave and ends up sounding melodramatic and often unbelievable. There’s something to be said for the theater of rock music, but the unity of the songs is undone as Hamilton’s overdone vocals—often way up in the mix—seem to pull away from all that textural heft. Columboid want to haunt, and they come close. They’d come off as a lot more troubling and exciting, however, if everyone was working together.

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