Indie rockers’ whisper mightier than their roar
Colour Revolt hails from Oxford, so the British “u” in the band’s name seems appropriate—until you realize they’re from Oxford, Miss.
Still, this little artifice is telling: Colour Revolt subjugates its Southern-ness to cosmopolitan gloom-rock time and again. With a stacked deck of prominent influences (at a time when starchy Arcade Fire-style indie rock is in commercial favor), the group has a whiff of bigness. Colour Revolt invites you to partake of the bigger feelings and emotions in life, but only some of them. Its music admits a narrow range of human experience—fear, depression, jealousy, morbid sentimentality—while mostly eliding joy, hope, playfulness and any trace of humor. But Colour Revolt is plowing a narrow furrow with force and conviction.
Like Modest Mouse and Les Savy Fav, Colour Revolt captures rock riffs in the act of going haywire—they may start as sturdy chugs, but inevitably they begin to shimmy like shopping carts with janky wheels. On “A Siren,” a standard-issue vamp morphs into a monochromatic chorus that, in turn, becomes a hornet’s nest of angry riffs: This is rock music parsing continuity as a series of disturbances. Colour Revolt pairs its corkscrewing rock to surrealism-tinged lyrics thick with signs, portents and puns. “God is swinging from the liquor tree / licking everything he finds,” Jesse Coppenbarger intones gravely amid the bedeviled post-punk blues of “Naked and Red.”
Coppenbarger’s voice isn’t as dynamic as that of Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington or Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, and he makes do switching between a stuffed-up purr and a hoarse, elongated shout. The heavier songs are a passing pleasure—muscular and satisfying although somewhat rote. But Colour Revolt comes into its own when it pursues a more mysterious, slow-burning allure. On “Elegant View,” a shoegazing ballad that unfolds in geologic time, Coppenbarger drops the oblique semiotics and goes for a more direct emotional appeal: “I wanted to be ready,” he sings achingly, beginning a meditation on arrested development that should resonate with emotionally stunted twentysomethings everywhere.