Thursday 13 March 2014

Secret Colours - Peach

Album review by

Depending on when you grew up, the word "indie" will mean different things. The DIY jangle of the bedsit bands of the '80s, the beat-heavy, psych-indebted next generation who became "baggy" (could the artwork here be a nod to Madchester band Northside?), or the ones who took the distortion and ambience to create shoegaze. You might think of Britpop, or maybe the garage-influenced sounds of The Strokes and The Libertines, or perhaps more angular sounds of the post-punk revival and math-rock. Besides the last one, Chicago band Secret Colours have most bases covered on their album 'Peach'. Their own press quotes say much of this: "the bastard seed of the '60s psychedelia and '90s Britpop bloodlines... psychedelic newgaze...". This self-released collection was first put out last year, but following the success of some more recent material, it's getting a reissue with a bit of extra boost behind it.

Once you get to the belly of the beast and songs like 'Who You Gonna Run To' and the weird and wonderful title-track then the overriding sound would be a modern version of psych, but the songs are littered with other reference points. You'd swear that baggy was back and better than ever if you heard opener 'Blackbird (the only one)', but already you notice the little complexities and speckles of other styles cropping up, making for a very rewarding listen. 'Freak' backs this up, taking those sounds to a more chilled, spaced-out place, but one that once again turns into a bit of a melting-pot, but a cohesive and expertly crafted one. You find out very early on that these guys are the real deal; they have ideas, they can write songs. True to their word, 'Euphoric Collisions' would have been a hit during the Britpop era, although it's not overwhelmingly British in the way that Blur or Pulp were; perhaps you could say it would've ridden into the charts on the coattails of the scene like so many other indie-type bands of the mid-'90s with the odd nod back to three decades before.

Talking of which... the bluesy, trippy 'World Through My Windows' borrows heavily from the past but does so with taste and a nice touch of its own to boot. By this point you've got to grips with what Secret Colours are all about, and for tune after tune they use these same touchstones and mix and match to make the sounds their own. 'Legends Of Love' fills that awkward gap between baggy/shoegaze and Britpop when US grunge and rock were the only guitar music getting UK chart success. The nearest we had to "indie" bands from Britain muscling in were people like Jesus Jones and Stereo MCs. It's nice to hear what should've (could've?) been. They do get down and properly experimental with their own sound on 'Blackhole', and 'Faust' is a swirling space-rock song. 'Lust' throws in a late call for most instant indie-pop hit, before they sign off in proper fashion with the classic reflective closer 'Love Like A Fool'. Call it psychedelia, call it indie, call it bloody Geraldine; this one definitely is a 'Peach'.

Secret Colours' website

Stream or buy the album

Catch them live:

Mar 13 SXSW “Austin Psych Fest presents : LEVITATION AUSTIN” - Austin, TX
Mar 15 SXSW Crash Avenue Presents, Austin, TX
Mar 22 EvenFlow, Music & Spirits, Geneva, IL  
Apr 23 Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL

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