[14 March 2013]
To be a band with an unimaginative name and a decent sound, or a band with a decent name and an unimaginative sound? Such is the conundrum of Bleeding Rainbow, formerly known as Reading Rainbow. In this such case, the name change brought about a sound change as well. As Reading Rainbow, the band released the garage-poppy Prism Eyes, an easily digestible album that was still messy enough to be interesting. Under the (in their words) “trippy as shit” moniker of Bleeding Rainbow, the band has concocted song after song of shoegaze cliche on Yeah Right. It’s sort of like the reverse of what the first wave shoegaze band Lush—who started as shoegaze, then moved on to a sassy pop style when Brit-pop hit—had done. As shoegaze has had a resurgence in recent years, Yeah Right feels more than a little contrived, but it wouldn’t have to if Bleeding Rainbow’s songs were better.
The biggest problem with Bleeding Rainbow isn’t necessarily their take on the shoegaze sound, but rather lead singer Sarah Everton’s voice. A major asset of Reading Rainbow was the decision to mask Everton’s very limited range in fuzz and distortion. Although appropriately adolescent, her voice’s exposure here is embarrassing. The choices made in delivery, on songs like opener “Go Ahead”, sometimes have the air of a 12-year-old trying to sing a torch ballad. When some Sonic Youth-y guitar manipulations kick in to ugly up the song, it’s almost a relief. Although tracks like “Pink Ruff” and “Drift Away” have catchy riffs, most melodies feel wholly reminiscent of a preexisting, better song.
Likewise, Bleeding Rainbow’s lyrics are derivative and uninventive; subject matter on Yeah, Right concerns either daydreaming or staring at the sky, two activities which aren’t all that different to begin with. True, thought-provoking lyrics has never been a shoegaze touchstone, but here the words feel like placeholders that Everton forgot to substitute with actual lyrics (probably because she was too busy staring at the sky). At least when she sings “I don’t breathe I just sigh” on “Drift Away”, Everton really is writing what she knows.
It is clear that Bleeding Rainbow are good musicians, and on the album’s few decent songs—like closer “Get Lost”—they conjure enough mood to prove that touring with A Place to Bury Strangers wasn’t a complete fluke. When Everton’s husband, Rob Garcia, joins her in singing “Losing Touch”, both the lyrics and Everton’s vocals are easier to take; the Spacemen 3 vibe of the music also suggests Bleeding Rainbows are more well-versed in the style they have assumed than previously suspected. Unfortunately, both these songs come too late in the game for the album to feel like anything other than a bland retread from a band who probably won’t be around for very long. Everton may sing “Sometimes I want to hear the things I’ve never heard before” on “Waking Dream”, but she and her bandmates are far from offering any solutions to that problem.