There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs with records. Some artists and/or producers are savvy enough in their recording process to build layers of sound in an album. Why do this? It gives the listener a treat with each listen. In the first pass-through of the album, we identify the type of genre of music, who is singing, how the music is presented to us, and if we find the songs generally pleasing or not. The second listen gives us a little more framework of the songs, we pick out individual tracks and perhaps we identify ones we like. The third listen, we sing along with a chorus. The twelfth listen, we know the songs we would prefer to skip over.
Somewhere along the line, the layers get picked up. That song we thought we didn’t like on the twelfth listen? All of a sudden we love it, just because we picked up on a line we didn’t notice, or we finally notice the chord progression on the bridge and the song takes on a whole new meaning. There is a beauty to that discovery.
That beauty is nested all over the new album by Brilliant Colors, Again and Again. The first time I gave the album a listen and it opened with “Hey Dan,” I immediately thought it was just another lo-fi indie punk rock album. But after countless listens, I realized this trio fromSan Francisco had so much more to offer than just more of the same.
In recording their sophomore album, Brilliant Colors have tapped into the essence of post-punk and swaddled it in a lo-fi sound. These ladies from the Bay Area play their brand of punk stripped down to its essential sound and with a vintage feel bordering on rockabilly. Jess Scott offers up nebulous vocals offset by her chiming guitar work.
As a lo-fi project, the initial listens of this album can be a bit misleading. In cultivating a particular sound, the production value is degraded and the listener has to wade through the throwback sound to pick up on cues. Songs blend together; there have been times where a bit from a Brilliant Colors song gets stuck in my head, but I don’t know which song it is. A line from Jess Scott’s vocals gets muddled and goes unheard. Michelle Hill’s bass strumming gets lost and Diane Anastasio’s drumming seems listless at times.
That’s when the practice of multiple listens comes in. Punk doesn’t lend itself to variation in sound, but there are great pop songs like “Value Lines,” “Back To The Tricks,” and “Painting Truths” that change up the pace. Each offer great drum fills and punching bass lines, as well as catchy driven guitar chords.
Again and Again is full of hooky melodies that will have Scott’s vocals stuck in your head for days. The album has a summery, feel-goodness to it and offers up the nostalgia of demo tapes and punk albums recorded on a 45. So put in your Casio tape or put the needle to the record, and give Brilliant Colors a listen.