The Australian indie-tronic trio, Crooked Colours, broke their 18 month hiatus this week with the release of their first full length album, ‘Vera’. This polished record showcases a definitive sound in a quick, cohesive, 10 song LP. Balancing smooth indie electronic beats, raw instrumentation, and somber lyricism, the Aussie three-piece delivers a sonically refreshing voice in an increasingly saturated genre.
Prior to the release of ‘Vera’, Crooked Colours put out a slew of successful singles garnering airplay from Australia’s Triple J and UK’s Radio 1. In addition, the group has a sizable Spotify following with 330,000 monthly listeners and three songs with over 1 million plays. While they remain a fairly underground group, the domestic success of their singles catapulted them to a two-year stint of tours and festival appearances making this album release highly anticipated for listeners in the indie-tronic space.
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Throughout the album, this trio infuses heavy, lumbering, off-kilter dance grooves with punchy instrumentals and dark, foreboding synthesizers. The smooth, digital synth lines within this record soar gracefully and beautifully over the hectic percussion and the subdued, solemn vocal performances. With one foot in the indie world and one foot in the dark electronica realm, Crooked Colours strikes a delicate balance that’s complemented with Phil Slabber’s withdrawn, brooding singing. The songwriting in this record embraces a more haunting tone, not taking center stage, but serving as an addition to the well refined production.
There are plenty of high points on this album. For example, the opening track, ‘Flow’, a subtly infectious song, gives the listener an accurate preview as to the direction of this album. The staccato guitar riffs and skeletal percussion and bass later transform into a punchy drum beat containing a hypnotic melody and thumping bass line.
Another track worth mentioning is, ‘I Hope You Get It’ (ft. Ivan Ooze). This is the only track with a feature on this album and Melbourne rapper Ivan Ooze comes through with a strong, laid back verse. His lyrics have a dark tone that accompany the tight, melancholy production giving this song a well layered, textured quality.
But perhaps the best moment on this album is the outro, ‘Perfect Run’, a six-minute, three-part journey that takes the listener for a cross genre rollercoaster. Beginning with a resonant piano-vocal ballad, the track slowly transitions to a dreamy, cascading synth harmony that leads into a sawtooth bass line mirroring Outrun artists like Kavinsky or Lazerhawk. The song then transforms into a foot-tapping electro pop melody that encourages dance with significant ease. Ultimately, this track succeeds multi-dimensionally serving as a perfect sequence for both contemplation and dance.
Although the vocals on this record do leave something to be desired. The performance on most of the tracks, with the exception of ‘Perfect Run’ and ‘Show Me’, seem to lack a real personality and character to them. There doesn’t seem to be any key feature distinguishing this group’s vocals from bands they seem to emulate. Lead singer, Phil Slabber, sings in a raspy falsetto reminiscent of Glass Animals, alt-J, and RUFUS, but doesn’t seem to contain the vocal quirks needed to diversify their sound. Unfortunately Crooked Colours don’t come through with the personality of the contemporaries they seem to have a lot in common with. If it wasn’t for the fact that the instrumentals and songwriting were so good, this record could seem like a simple rehash or just plain boring.
Overall this album is a beautifully constructed piece that experiments with catchy dance beats, raw instrumentation, and dark electronic elements. It has been a long time coming for Crooked Colours, but the trio truly delivered a unique and interesting voice in the indie-tronic sphere, and listeners will no doubt be clamoring for more.
Full Track List:
- I Hope You Get It (Ft. Ivan Ooze)
- Come Back To You
- Running Blind
- All Eyes
- Show Me
- Shine On
- Perfect Run