Living Arrangements

Color Film

Epitaph, 2017

http://www.colorfilmmusic.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/02/2017

Color Film is a project resulting from the shared musical interests of Glassjaw/Head Automatica frontman Daryl Palumbo and Men Women & Children bassist/Head Automatica multi-instrumentalist Richard Penzone. The duo’s debut, Living Arrangements, is a mishmash of all the sounds that came out of the New Wave era. But things are not quite that simple. Even though the music here might “sound” familiar, the song arrangements are like a dream that’s full of chaos: all you can remember are bits and pieces of the narrative, but you have no clue as to how they all connect.nbtc__dv_250

Tension and pandemonium are built into the DNA of this album. Opening cut, the super-short “We’d Kill Each Other,” is disorienting and abrupt. “Ambush Bug” is maddening, with its marching drumming that beats with a breathless pace. The ever changing “Brass In Seven” seems at times like it is totally out of control, like a drunken brawl in a bar. “I Need A Parasite” is a song on some kind of a trip with its quirky synthesizer sounds and absurdly stoic vocals. Of course, there are plenty of Wire/Duran Duran/Talking Heads influences to be found in these numbers. But Palumbo and Penzone put a deranged spin on these influences that is enough to not make them seem so apparent.

Eccentricity rules Living Arrangements. However, the disc is much less maniacal…at least sometimes. “Bad Saint” has a reggae vibe and a cheesy ‘80s sentimentality that sounds fun and easily relatable. “Day After Day” is like a Love And Rockets goth-pop track – dark but poppy at the same time. “Restless Summer,” despite its lyrics scoffing at Los Angeles (“From the top of your silly sign to your Sunset Strip / I’ve seen so many things, worst of which here…and there’s nothing you can say to make me stay another day”), is catchy with a sunny disposition. “Crawling In Circles” has a sort of sexy noir-pop thing going on, similar to Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill.” “Springtime Of Our Love” is gorgeously smooth and the most straightforward track on Living Arrangements, as if were taken straight from the core of the new romantic movement.

Whether they are being absolutely kooky or more conventional, Color Film has a take on New Wave that is more interesting than imitative. Living Arrangements is not an album for those merely looking for a recognizable throwback sound. It is weird enough to make you uncomfortable. But it is also a ton of fun.

Rating: B+

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