N.W. Free Music
THE TERM “POP” originated in the 1960s with pop art, a movement defined by taking popular, everyday images and experimenting with them in conventional media to make a new, approachable type of fine art—think Warhol’s “Campbell Soup Cans” or Oldenburg’s “Dropped Cone”. In some ways, calling Graffiti6’s unique sound “pop” reflects this meaning, just as much as it does the idea of being well liked.
Graffiti6 is the collaborative project of Jamie Scott, who has written songs for Enrique Iglesias and One Direction, and TommyD, famous for having produced Right Said Fred’s 1991 hit, “I’m Too Sexy”. Colours is their debut LP.
The album feels like upbeat ‘80s pop with a twist of psychedelia and funk. The head-bobbin’ Hall and Oates vibe is especially apparent in tracks like “Stop Mary”, the title song “Colours”, and “Goodbye Geoffrey Drake”, where the album hits a high point by combining bright melodies with folky guitar.
After the novelty wears off, the music fails to be interesting. Scott’s crooning on “This Man” is soulful, but it stops short of chilling. “Over You” has actual emotional promise, but the vapidity of lyrics such as “It’s all right / Nothing lasts forever baby / It’s all right / Now I can dance” keeps the song from hitting any serious notes.
Colours successfully delves into a few genres, and does an awesome job of showcasing TommyD’s production abilities and Jamie Scott’s talents as a vocalist. But while the project is fun, it fails to be nearly as powerful as the artists who influenced it. The duo throw around a lot of paint, but in the end the picture isn’t that great. In fact, it’s really just a lot of colour.
The Just Barleys | Mad Bits
Just Friends Records
CANADIAN BAND THE Just Barelys have a catchy name, and artwork for their third studio album, Mad Bits, is just as intriguing. Unfortunately, the music itself is not as appealing.
The duo, comprised of Stephen Kelly and Eleanor King, sing and play several different instruments on the album, which is an excess of pop music and full of computer manipulations. Their tracks all sound very similar and leave little to be remembered.
The lyrics to “Almost Exactly” are immature with vocals that sound angsty, verging sometimes on wailing. The next track, “Lions”, displays some improvement. It has catchier lyrics and the music itself is reminiscent of Matt and Kim, another indie pop duo.
The instrumentation peaks with the second to last song, “We Don’t Really Believe This (Yes We Do)”. Featuring a minute-long intro of different beeps and bops, which sound like robots trying to communicate, the tune starts off less than promising. Once the music kicks in, it ends up being the best song on the album. The guitar is upbeat and the opening lyrics are hum-worthy, as the male vocalist proclaims, “You’re an engineer / you must know more than me.”
Overall, the album Mad Bits is only decent. Listening to the whole thing may be impossible, as you would overdose on inauthentic pop music.
Odd Future Records
THIS SYNTH-DRIVEN RELEASE, by Odd Future’s Matt Martian and Syd Tha Kid, contrasts with the edgy rap-centred work of Los Angeles’ hip hop collective Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All. Tha Kid’s vocals mellow out the music, creating a soothing ambient debut, and the sparse lyrics hover over the tracks—acting more as accent than focus. Some of the artists featured on the album add some necessary variety, livening it up toward the middle.
The technical work on Purple Naked Ladies is almost flawless, balancing syncopation and rhythm to create beats the listener can groove to. The absence of lyrics drives attention to the music, and the short songs keep most of the album from feeling repetitive or slow.
The inclusion of Left Brain on a couple of the tracks helps the album pick up the pace as it begins to lag—the soothing effects of the music and soft lyrics are almost too relaxing. Songs like “Cocaine” mix Syd Tha Kid’s lyrics with more upbeat music, and Left Brain’s vocals provide a jolt of energy that invigorates the album. An easy listen for afternoons, but needs a bit more to carry into the night.
Gescha | Crayon Politics
IT’S TEMPTING TO summarize Gescha’s debut, Crayon Politics, as trailer park seduction music. The opener “Go” has a porn groove feel to it that sets the tone for the rest of the album—raspy breaths, suggestive beats, and mundane lyrics. The vocals on the second track, “Breathe”, feel about a half key off, highlighting the final problem of Gescha’s first release—a tuning irregularity that occurs throughout the album, but tragically isn’t the worst flaw.
The only song on the album to really attract any attention is “Love Pirates”, and its success at standing out is purely the result of it being the one track that abandons awkward attempts at making Barry White accessible to teenage boys by embracing their first inclinations of sex appeal and pot. Lyrically, the song is a pointlessly repetitive tune that celebrates tax evasion and bass drums—an ideological complexity that likely sprung out of attempted rhyming schemes rather than deep philosophical thought.
Gescha’s lyrics, waxing poetical about subjects such as TD Canada Trust, come out breathy and nonsensical, and the sleezy beats can’t hide the insipid direction of the album. What is most alarming, though, is Gescha’s ability to soil once-innocent crayons with this mess.