Album Review: Colorama ‘Box’

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Sixties and seventies revivalism is, for the most part, such an ugly thing. As fun as the Super Furry Animals are, you have to endure the insufferable Ocean Colour Scene, Oasis and Kula Shaker (and, clearly, this requires a reviewer to be stuck in some ’90s mindset… don’t worry, it gets better).

Of late though, there’s been a batch of bands seeping through the cracks to bring that authentic ’60s sound and, most importantly, a degree of playfulness that made the best of the ’60s so much fun to listen to.

No-one wants a po-faced axeman chopping out endless 12 bar blues. The best revivalists get stuck into the dressing up box and mess with every dial in the studio to create kaleidoscopic toytown symphonies… and Colorama are stuck in this wonderful world of make-believe.The musical heartbeat behind Colorama is the obscenely talented Carwyn Ellis who has cut his chops with a number of established musicians like Edwyn Collins, Shane MacGowan and the aforementioned Gallagher brothers, however, it’s when he’s in his Colorama cloak that we get to see what he’s really capable of.

Along with bands like The Junipers, The Maladies of Bellafontaine, The Postmarks and the sadly defunct Beep Seals, Colorama is pushing for the other-wordly playtime of British psychedelia. When Brian Wilson hears all these bands, he’ll know that all those nervous breakdowns were worth it.

After a fistful of ace releases, Colorama finally get ’round to releasing a proper full-length album. There’s a lot to live up to as well, as anyone who heard early single ‘Sound’ will testify (which, coupled with the b-side, showed someone appallingly fully-formed).

And this new record won’t dent the reputation of Colorama at all.

It switches between achingly lovely music-box folk to fun popsike, as well as making time for some moody, fairytale-dark numbers that paint all manner of images in that brain of yours. It really is a very, very good piece of work.

Title track ‘Box’ and single ‘Candy Street’ are unashamedly cheery, which between them crib notes from Pepperland era Beatles, Harry Nilsson, Teenage Fanclub at their most Byrdsy while songs like ‘Autumnal’ and ‘Mynydd Hud (Magic Mountain’) have the echoes of Meic Stevens and the pleasing weariness of Ray Davies.

As the nights draw in and get darker and colder, Colorama’s ‘Box’ is the album that will simultaneously soundtrack eerie night-walks and give you a shot of sunshine right in the arm.

For fans of the ’60s underground, there’s a lot to love about this album and, for everyone else, this LP is teaming with great hooks, ear-worm melodies and enough in the layers to keep you intrigued for a good while yet. Sure, this is an album steeped in an era long gone, but it has enough about it to maintain a relevance in 2010.

You need this album. Hibernating never sounded more fun than this.

Hear a preview of the album here.

Colorama ‘Box’ is release 1st November on See Monkey Do Monkey Recordings.

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Comments

  1. Ashley says

    Great review Mof, of a brilliant album. Loving all this Welsh Psych at the moment – The Keys, El Goodo and all the See Monkey bands.

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