Colony House is entering the music industry with a standard record-then-tour plan for their debut album, When I Was Younger. In that way, the band consists of a bunch of old souls in young bodies—possibly a little naive about what looms ahead.
Without some other clever marketing gimmick, they probably won’t go viral anytime soon. Things like recording in secret a la Beyonce are also off the table, at least for a while as singer Caleb Chapman, drummer Will Chapman and guitarist Scott Mills figure out the ropes of becoming a touring band.
Still, despite any specific new media strategy, the band’s reverence and instinct for the power of music might be all it needs. The Chapman brothers and Mills believe in the songs they’re creating.
“One of the struggles that comes while writing is figuring out how to give the listener a chance to respond,” says lead singer Caleb Chapman. “A conversation takes two sides going back and forth, and I think music has this special ability to allow two people or parties to communicate with each other even when they aren’t in the same space. We never want to waste an opportunity to have a conversation with our listeners.”
The lead single “Silhouettes” starts off When I Was Younger carefree and innocent. It’s a summer tune in every sense and brings vivid images of manually cranking the window handle down while being smacked in the face by a warm breeze.
As good as “Silhouettes” is as a lead single, it’s a little deceiving. The rest of the album is distinctly less poppy, settling in somewhere between Coldplay’s lush atmospheric rock and the more ridged style of Cold War Kids.
The title track is surprisingly only a little over a minute of instrumental music which, more than anything, starts setting the tonal expectations for the rest of the album. The pace keeps moving, as evident by the jamming on “Roll With The Punches,” “220” or even “Keep On Keeping On.” Four songs in, it’s apparent the mood has already left summertime innocence.
Chapman describes the album’s flow as very intentional. The path from upbeat and poppy in the beginning to airy and emotionally charged in the final song is mirrored in the lyrics and exposes who Colony House is.
“The track listing was very strategic for this project,” Chapman says. “Above all we wanted to create something that moved the listener throughout the 45-minute journey as opposed to one song here and there. It’s so easy these days to focus on the singles and totally forget how much power a collection of songs can have.”
“Learning How To Love,” whether initially noticeable or not, is the start of a different album. The differences are subtle, but emotionally and sonically the songs reach a deeper level. It’s “Won’t Give Up,” however, that really begins the powerful journey to the record’s end. The music on “Won’t Give Up” steps aside for its lyrics. The song begins with “I wear the guilt upon my chest ’cause I feel like I’ve earned it” and only gets heavier as past tragedies are dealt with and shared openly.
From there, “Moving Forward” instantly signals redemption. As the upbeat track marches towards its triumphant conclusion, it feels like the song’s message is the one the band has been trying to convey up until this point. It’s a message of forgiveness and acceptance in spite of pain. “Glorious” piggybacks glowingly with bright tones and eases the listener down before the album ends more spatially on “Lose Control.”
When I Was Younger, for all its spectacular qualities, is a slow burn. The first time through the full album likely won’t produce the same enthusiastic reactions that the third or fourth listen will. This is part of its appeal. No one wants a bunch of songs that can easily be picked apart after one spin.
Once you have hit play a few times, the songs open up and reveal more about themselves. They’re authentic, but just like authenticity isn’t something instantly seen, these songs hold up well over time and prove themselves again and again.
When I Wasn’t Younger isn’t perfect, but it’s close. Any minor flaws are masked by depth, attention to detail and overall polish. Even though Colony House hasn’t quite figured out the financial side of sustaining this band yet, it’s one of the rare acts for which the music might really be enough.