Until the Colours Run is a beautiful album. The cover art is beautiful. The arrangements and performances are beautiful. The vocals are beautiful. The production is beautiful. It contains one song that is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve heard all year. Listening to it is like drowning in honey. And yet there’s a coldness, a distance at its core that stops me falling for it unconditionally.
Opener Elodie is a microcosm of what is wrong here. A vaguely shoegazey intro, though much more M83 than MBV, suddenly switches to a simple piano & vocal verse reminiscent of the sadly-missed Delgados’ classic The Great Eastern, before rounding off with an anthemic guitar hook that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Coldplay album. It’s nice, it’s tasteful, and there’s its problem – this is music to admire rather than fall in love with.
Buffalo Days teases with an intro that evokes Throwing Muses before dissolving into blandness; the Celtic-tinged title track makes me think – the horror!!! – of The Cranberries; while The Picture Show aims at Tori Amos territory, and hits. I don’t like Tori Amos.
There’s one moment here which suggests that we might after all be in the presence of greatness, and that’s Another Tale from Another English Town – a haunting account of the latest Tory assault on the working classes of Britain (“We just want a quiet life, but they won’t stop ‘til they see us in the ground”) set to music of glacially heartstopping beauty, it suggests that if they stopped trying to be tasteful and quirky and just let themselves go, LOTL could truly soar.
Until then, they’re far too close to the coffee table to be taken to my heart.