Review | Colour Me Wednesday

Colour Me Wednesday

Colour Me Wednesday

Colour Me Wednesday, I Thought It Was Morning, Discount Horse Recordings

Long-awaited might be an over-worked phrase, but since the wider world started noticing Colour Me Wednesday a couple of years ago, the absence of their promised debut album has represented a genuine vacuum for their growing fan base. If their defiantly DIY stance has served to keep them under mainstream media radar before now, they punch above their weight as a band to watch. It’s not hard to understand then, why Discount Horse Records would step in and seize the time, issuing ‘I Thought It Was Morning’ on CD and red, red vinyl and describing it as “stunning summertime indie punk.. that mixes pop and politics forming a sublime navigation of the everyday”.

A good start. TheGirlsAre could add that no group we know of has combined ardent, astute politics with such summery pop since The Housemartins, but while The Jam and XRaySpex have also been invoked in previous reviews the truth is that CMW aren’t really channeling any bands of that generation (with the exception of a slight Clash influence). Instead, their sound comes out of a blend of bang-up-to-date indie pop from the school of Lemuria and the much-missed Those Dancing Days, and a solid foundation of riotgrrrl and female-fronted indie absorbed through childhood osmosis. Meanwhile, the politics are informed by everyday experience; no influence required. But there’s more: with no regard for genre boundaries, CMW then take this pure indie pedigree and blend it with the kind of Skints-esque dub/ska pop sound clash last seen en masse on the 90’s underground-festival circuit with bands like Back To The Planet and Scum Of Toytown. Literally no-one else was doing this crossover back then, and it’s equally unique now.

So to the songs. ‘Shut’ you already know. ‘ Holiday from Your Life’ and ‘Unicorn In Uniform’ are in familiar form from the EP, while the much-loved ‘Purge Your Inner Tory’ benefits from organ-ic keyboards, magnifying its momentum. ‘Lost In The High Street’ seems to shape shift with every performance: here it’s a nervy but restrained rumble, the dub breakdown implied but never let loose (and surely a track crying out for an extended 12” mix, post-punk style).

‘#1 Bastard’ has the kind of pop-punk template this album could’ve been built around, but instead the songs thrive on diversity, with notable flourishes that linger long after the music ends: the agile bass-runs on reggae track ‘Carefree’, the shiny lead-guitar on ‘Cat Hair’, the sublime harmonies of ‘Not Coming To Your BBQ’, and the sections of hiphop-influenced vocal flow on ‘BBQ’, ‘Bitter Boys’ and ‘Don’t Waste Your Breath’. The former worries unnecessarily that “I’m running out of melodies/to express my thoughts about my enemies” while the latter track – featuring King Blues keyboardist and solo artist Perkie – applies a Foucaultian analysis of power to our economic crises, wrapped in the most rousing ska-pop hit since the first Lily Allen album. We use the word ‘hit’ because this simply demands to be the next single, it’s a swearword away from Radio One approval.

Elsewhere the lyrics range from self-aware dissections of identity and daily conflicts (despite outward form, there’s too much sturm und drang in Colour Me Wednesday’s aesthetic for them to slot into the indie pop archetype) to meditations on, to borrow a phrase from an earlier English idealist, “how we live, and how we might live”. ‘Holiday’s’ acerbic critique – “trading hours in cubicles/for a week sat by the pool” – even recalls Debord’s demolition of tourism: “human circulation considered as consumption is nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal.”

Final track ‘I Thought It Was Morning’ (“..but it never comes”) may be simply a lullaby to insomnia, but the sheer beauty of the song notwithstanding, on such a politically-charged record can’t help but loom large as metaphor. As ‘Don’t Waste Your Breath’ makes clear, this is the real jilted generation, waiting for the delivery of promises made and deliverance from Austerity UK. What happens to a dream deferred? The album ends on a note of uncertainty – except for a couple of points. This is not just another band. This is an exceptionally assured debut record, and this is only the first step for a group which could evolve in any number of promising directions. Wake up with Colour Me Wednesday.

I Thought It was Morning is available now on CD/Vinyl from Discount Horse Records. Also available as download and multimedia package from the Colour Me Wednesday Bandcamp.

Kofi Smith

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