Amongst the many overstretched suspensions of disbelief that Trainspotting foisted upon the world at large, one of them was the wild-eyed, car-leaping, elegantly loquacious Scottish heroin addict.
As the uber-styled, waif-thin and high-on-life (and morphia) Mark Renton bounded through the streets of Edinburgh recounting his acidly observed rejection of all that is middle-class, aspirational, soul-sapping and suburban, adding his own verbal percussion to the skaggy Cali-drawl of Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life' there was nothing in the world more glamourous to be than a hard-arsed Scottish smackhead.
the celtic-infused, opiate-drenched, guitars and reverb, floppy-fringed louche, too-pretty-to-live-too-young-to-die veneer of vicarious wastedness
Similarly, the Jesus and Mary Chain gave us the celtic-infused, opiate-drenched, guitars and reverb, floppy-fringed louche, too-pretty-to-live-too-young-to-die veneer of vicarious wastedness to which we all aspired. Feeling smug and superior yet? Yeah? Well you can bite that down right now if you've so much as wasted three minutes watching Lana Del Rey's breathy cleancut cheerleader-snogs-tattooed-greaser counterculture lifestyle-porn. We've all got our own Tyler Durdens buried within, yours just has a different name.
And whilst neither of the Reid brothers ever looked capable of bounding down an Edinburgh street for more than a drainpipes and winklepickers-hampered hundred yards or so, and whilst (it may be argued) they'd more likely have crashed, fringe-blinded into a lampost, or paused to have a brotherly punchup midway through, they did make great skaggy janglepop, all crunching reverbed guitar chords, thumping bass and mouthbreathing nuisance-caller vocals. It was a flyblown arclight of skinny heroin chic to sleepwalk mordantly towards, and the more Zammo and Nancy declared 'Just Say No!', the more seductive became the urge to be waiting for your man, fifty dollars in your hand.
great skaggy janglepop, all crunching reverbed guitar chords, thumping bass and mouthbreathing nuisance-caller vocals
Colours bring all that back – although with more cornfed energy and pace than their more obvious influences (to which we could safely bet on adding The Stone Roses, The Wedding Present, even a touch of Ned's Atomic Dustbin – and then of course play safe by throwing in a couple of less populist examples to placate the NME readers – let's say Neu, Love and the Velvets). It is that blistering pace though, that makes the Colours EP worth listening to. It all comes courtesy of a manic energy at the kit, owing more to Stephen Morris' fix-it-or-fuck-it 'tude on Unknown Pleasures than any of the aforementioned list of wet guitars and feedback bands.
'Drip Haze' opens boldly, screaming guitar picking a skittering, broken-glass motif down on the thin strings, whilst the skaggy reverb and delay echoes all fixate on a simple supporting upper-mids mini arpeggio that clangs in every fourth bar. A nimble bassline drives the track, effects-drenched but with enough pop left to pulsate effectively throughout, and marrying perfectly with the splashy hats 'n' snares drumbeat. Somewhere, drowned into the background, is a vocal.
Machined into a disembodied, shadowy drone by multi-tracking and filters, there are lyrics – what they are is of no great importance. In this case they are relegated to fodder for harmonies, being used in the mix more in the role of upper-mids instrumental fill than as any great songwriting tool. That's something of a pity.
'Night Climb' is ponderous and a touch irritating. Sharing nothing of the energy of the rest of the EP, it owes too much to the fey swagger of slower Jesus and Mary Chain dirges, but with none of the growling venom that made those so compelling. Instead, we get multi-delayed and looped modal chords on guitar taking everything too much into the celestial realm, and an insipid vocal that is, ironically, too prominent for the effect Colours seem to be striving for.
'Missing' fares a little better, although delves far too deeply into Stone Roses tribute band territory to be comfortable. The drummer is sadly subdued on the track except for a couple of pattering moments between chorus and verse. It seems a shame to have an animal sticksman and keep him reined in.
A snarling, magical mystery tour of amphetamine flower-power that could cause permanent hearing damage
Track two though, 'Our Trip', is the reason for the EP. Hell, it's a reason to keep living. A snarling, magical mystery tour of amphetamine flower-power that could cause permanent hearing damage, so strong is the urge to keep turning the volume up. A raft of sonic elements: shattered Rickenbacker twangs, 'Peggy Sue' cardboard-box kickbeats, growling chainsaw guitar chords, dreamy vocals droning obliviously about 'flowers in her hair' whilst an ungodly dream chorus and brooding deathrace bassline denote a gibbering precipice looming just off set. Staggering.
Bringing together a song dynamic, melodic narrative, soul-blistering energy and just so much STUFF, without it all blowing up into a farting, blubbery Jabba mess, is nothing short of a triumph. There is no volume slider that goes high enough for this little beauty.
Out on February 27th on Marshall Teller Records
Sean Keenan used to write. Now he edits, and gets very annoyed about the word ‘ethereal’. Likely to bite anyone using the form ‘I’m loving….’. Don’t start him on the misuse of three-dot ellipses.
Divides his time between mid-Spain and South-West France, like one of those bucktoothed, fur-clad minor-aristocracy ogresses you see in Hello magazine, only without the naff chandeliers.