Music

HEALTH: Get Color

Matthew Blackwell

On their sophomore effort, HEALTH streamline their sound, polishing the rough edges while expanding on the aspects that made their debut so exciting.


HEALTH

Get Color

Label: Lovepump United
US Release Date: 2009-09-08
UK Release Date: 2009-09-07
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

In 2006, Liars released Drum's Not Dead, which was notable because it managed to sound at the same time more expansive and more pared down than anything Liars had done before. They kept the most effective aspects of their sound, magnified and refined them, and ended up with a record that, at its best, feels like a sort of musical manifest destiny: of course that was the record they were going to make. All the signs pointed to it!

This is an apt reference point for HEALTH's Get Color, not only because of the inevitable comparisons between the two bands' sounds, but because HEALTH have managed to pull off a similar feat. The critical reception for HEALTH's 2007 self-titled debut could largely be expressed as a cautious optimism. Sure, it was a damn good album, but it balanced so deftly between experimental noise (“Crimewave”) and more traditional dance sounds (“Glitter Pills”) that there was some trepidation that the notorious sophomore slump would see them pull too far to one or the other extreme. Instead, they've distilled all the elements that made their debut work so well into a sleek, nearly faultless album. The transcendent but sparse vocals that created some of the debut's most intriguing moments are here turned hypnotically insistent. And the sometimes failed noise experiments on the debut (“Courtship”) are replaced by well-honed pieces that always combine, puzzle-like, into cohesive songs. Looking back, it seems obvious that this is the album that HEALTH had to make.

Part of the reason Get Color is more consistent than the self-titled disc is the recording process. Whereas the previous album was recorded by the band with a laptop, this effort was recorded onto 2” tape, mixed in Logic, and then recorded back onto tape. The analog recording gives the whole album a warmer, softer feel wherein even the noisiest segments don't feel out of place next to the more meditative moments. This allows the slower songs (and there are several, with closer “In Violet” coming close to ballad territory) to breathe without jarring transitions into the drum-heavy breakdowns.

Multi-instrumentalist John Famiglietti, during the recording of the album, noted the repetition of Get Color's songs, saying that many of them are “very grooved based". While at the time this sounded like a daunting prospect -- repeating the harsher parts of HEALTH would make for a harrowing listen, to say the least -- it is instead the album's most captivating component. The guitar part on “We Are Water”, for instance, provides a focal point around which the vocals and drums can build and recede without losing momentum until the track climaxes before the coda. And the feedback loop on “Die Slow” stays constant for the duration of the song, permeating the entire track with a tone that skirts the boundary between noise and melody.

The discretion with which these songs are composed suggests not only that HEALTH know how to do more with less -- anyone who has witnessed the maelstrom of noise the four-piece can create in concert can attest to that -- but that they have the sense of dynamics necessary to continue honing their sound in a subtler and more effective direction. Get Color builds on the success of HEALTH in all the right ways, proving the band worthy of an intimidating amount of hype while defying the expectations that come with it.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Music

Inventions' 'Continuous Portrait' Blurs the Grandiose and the Intimate

Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium side project, Inventions are best when they are navigating the distinction between modes in real-time on Continuous Portrait.

Music

Willie Jones Blends Country-Trap With Classic Banjo-Picking on "Trainwreck" (premiere)

Country artist Willie Jones' "Trainwreck" is an accessible summertime breakup tune that coolly meshes elements of the genre's past, present, and future.

Music

2011's 'A Different Compilation' and 2014 Album 'The Way' Are a Fitting Full Stop to Buzzcocks Past

In the conclusion of our survey of the post-reformation career of Buzzcocks, PopMatters looks at the final two discs of Cherry Red Records' comprehensive retrospective box-set.

Music

Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez

Music

Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.

Music

"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.

Music

The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.

Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.