Groovers on Manoeuvres

The rants and raves of a music fan in Swindon.

Colour The Atlas – Colour The Atlas

Review By Dave Franklin

The last time I saw Colour The Atlas they had a different name and were playing above a trendy bar where the clientele had just the right labels, over complicated hair and drinks were bought through complex schemes that required inordinate amounts of paperwork. The least appealing part of the set up was that the house PA made the bands sound as if the gig was taking place at the bottom of a well. No fault of the musicians but not the best setting for music or for that matter administration free drinking. Listening to their first, eponymous, e.p. makes that all seem like a very long time ago.

They always had a great pop sensibility, an ear for a melodic hook and ability to pen accessible tunes but it would seem that they now have so much more going on in their sound. Constant gigging, including shows with Newton Faulkner and signing to Ugly Truth seems to have opened doors that have enabled them to really hone their sound.  The result is a clash of cinematic folk, chilled trip beats and swaths of sensuous, late night atmospherics.  The obvious starting point is the vocals, Jess Hall and Alex Stone both manage to weave sleek and delicate patterns individually but when they are wrapping those harmonies around each others the result is glorious as the vocal hook on lead track Snow will testify.

Satellites plays to a straighter, more minimal beat, skirts Bat For Lashes territory with its scratched record underlay, throws in samples that skitter past just out of earshot but still adheres to the overall cohesive musical identity of the record. The real piece de resistance (pardon my French,) however, is Shockwaves, a slow burner that builds into a crescendo of synth fuelled harmonies, throws nice dynamic curve balls and wallows in a warm cocoon of sound.

This is the sound of a band having the resources to make the music that up until now may have only existed in their heads. Emotionally rich, musically economical and wonderfully balanced, in short, beautiful. Though they cite predominantly American bands as influences, Bon Ivor, Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, you know, the usual for this genre, there is something quintessentially British about it all and this, as much as anything else, is not only its charm but its major selling point. It’s a remarkable achievement and a great calling card.

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