Mapless Records, 2011
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/14/2011
Chicago-based Color Radio’s music is strongly characterized by bountiful guitar layers, which are moody to say the least. But at no point in the band’s debut Architects does the lushness of the guitars get overbearing. The band doesn’t let their music drown into the haze of guitars; like a more mainstream alt-rock band, Color Radio balances their weirdness with music that is direct and free of false fronts.
The album’s more straightforward moments have an unambiguous Brit-pop vibe, which in their partly Dodgy and partly Teenage Fanclub way, have the air of the typical alt-pop numbers of that period. Tracks like “Elephant Room” and “Towers” have this unmistakable tone.
However, most of Architects is a lot tenser, as Color Radio tries to get darker. But the band treads this terrain carefully so that they don’t make grandiose rock anthems out of these numbers, which come in different flavors. Bold guitars hovering indistinctly like faint shadows are almost present on these tracks like religious rituals. The band has an odd resemblance to Coldplay (their more rock-leaning cuts) on the tracks “Vespers” and “Quiet House.” On “Sharks,” the band has a more retro sound, like likes of Echo And The Bunnymen and even hints of The Verve. Lead vocalist Jonathan Ifergan’s singing has got as much to do with this as the music itself.
Architects never gets too dark or too poppy or too psychedelic. It maintains enough distance from the extremes. Still, it doesn’t find itself restrained or reluctant. Color Radio finds enough freedom in the space of this record to let their guitars spread out enough that they can ably hold the album together without getting too overpowering. It allows keyboards in the sanctimonious space of the guitars and let is unassumingly create artful mystery in the hidden crevices of the music. Color Radio is colorful, but in the most uneccentric way.