Review: This Is Colorama! – Volume 1 compilation

Artwork for the This Is Colorama! – Volume 1 compilation

This Is Colorama! – Volume 1 proves to be a winning compilation from the fledgling label.

Initially launched as a vehicle for Andy Crofts (lead songwriter with The Moons and bassist in Paul Weller’s band) to release his own music, Colorama Records have steadily built up an impressive portfolio over the last 18 months, with a host of releases showcasing the diversity of acts signed up to the Moons man’s boutique label.

However, some of their releases may have slipped through the cracks and not received the attention they deserved, so this compilation release, which collects the best cuts, is a handy starting point.

As is his right, Crofts bookends the record. Today, by his band, is a welcome bit of percussion-heavy sunshine as the nights draw in, his dreamy vocals recalling summers past and a reminder of how underrated The Moons are.

In contrast, album closer Forevermore (a duet with Le SuperHomard) – all sumptuous strings, gentle acoustic guitar and heart-felt lyrics – is a low-key but beautiful way to round things off.

In-between, the listener is treated to 11 tracks with varying soundscapes and intent. The dry, rustling percussion and wonky synths both delight and scare on You Ain’t Got It Bad (Teenage Waitress), with a consciously muffled sound akin to Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Like Dreaming by Duvet Daze, but with extra righteous vocal and a more wistful melody.

While the production levels and instrumentation across the tracks are varied, a sense of breeziness inhabits virtually all of them. Bliss Williams’ Tearaway may have driving strings and Motown drums, but one can hear the smile on his face, while the hip-swinging guitars on A Simple Song (Sunzoom) combine with buoyant percussion (washed down with some bongos at the very end) recalling the confident subversion of Gruff Rhys. Meanwhile the multi-layered vocals on the Byrdsian Wire (The Lunar Towers) are crisp but soothing.

Pale Sabres’ offering, Left For Dead, is a cosmic scouse odyssey not unlike the Peter Gunn soundtrack (and excellent as a result), while Nothing New Under The Sun by Robi Mitch is dub-flecked and includes an impressive vocal.

True Heart (Reid Anderson) is comparatively simple, a gentle heart-warming acoustic number, while Chris Watson adds some Parisian accordion to the overall carefree air on Secret Garden.

All the tracks are strong, but such is the nature of compilations some must be better than others. The gorgeous, angelic harmonies and swooning heartbreak of Still by Tiny Dyno stands out, as does the glistening psychedelia of Eloise’s Haunted.

But on this day, the bruising Neverready by Wilderman takes the crown. A stomping rock tale of carnal desires, it’s direct but devastating.

The subtitle of this fine compilation of songs suggests there is more to come and, based on what has been served so far, Colorama’s reputation and therefore their roster is going to flourish, meaning plenty of delights await.

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