Colorfeels – Syzygy

written by: June 8, 2011
Release Date: May 10, 2011


Do something differently or improve on a design. That seems to be the modus operandi of artists, especially indie artists these days, sometimes to the extent that it overwhelms the final product. Colorfeels is a band entering the scene still a little unsure of their footing. Their album, conspicuously titled Syzygy, at best bears a gentle, lilting energy and a boundless scope of ambition but rarely delivers on its promises.

Sure footing is a fair metaphor—even the band admits they lack it at times. In the album opener, “Mirrored Walls,” frontman Parker Cason sings, “The river shoots out onto the open sea/I turned around, there’s nothing behind me,” over ascending guitars and keyboards. There are several moments where a listener will “look back” and see nothing. For all its steadiness and lurid soundscapes—its waxing poetic—almost nothing is memorable.

Being memorable is one criteria and maybe an unfair one to judge an album on alone but this one doesn’t seem able to decide on a direction. It’s a sound that’s electric and eclectic. The guitar work on the bouncing “Unplanned Holiday” is unmistakably West African in influence.

Colorfeels is heedless in instrumentation: bells, artificial strings, banjo and even what would seem to be a clarinet. It not atypical to hear a space-organ drifting off followed immediately by a cutesy melodious verse fueled by guitars and banjos.

Syzygy was recorded at Cason’s ancestral home, Forge Seat: an 18-acre estate in Brentwood, Tennessee. The album is laced with bird, wind and water noises. It’s funny but even an attempt as strange as this one doesn’t manage to transcend Nashville sound entirely. The wailing lap steel guitar on “Fun Machine” lends a bit of down-home twang. It’s as if, in an attempt to keep it palatable, the band tried to anchor down its twirling, drifting sounds with pop-sensible elements as an afterthought or vice versa.

There can be a creeping menace to Colorfeels—piano dribbles, winding clarinets and crass, lethargic vocal stylings, but despite it astral tendencies it’s never quite enough to convince you of its means. It is bizarre but lest too much credit be given where its undue—the work falls into that cliché of “unclassifiable”—know that there is far more familiarity than experimentation. Syzygy can’t decide if it wants to be either, so it does both, and neither well.

Colorfeel’s premier is a stilted attempt at otherworldliness, which, if it isn’t obvious from the gratuitously psychedelic artwork, song titles like “Zenzizenzizenic” or the album title itself—listening will prove quickly. It’s not that this is Colorfeels’ natural sound but you can tear through the rhetoric and realize just how hard they’re trying to seem trippy. This is an hour and six minute crawl through middling compositions, trite sound-scaping and two-bit lyricism. Really, when you realize the quantifiable length of an album, it’s a pretty good indicator of the quality of this album.

Colorfeels – Syzygy Tracklist:

  1. “Mirrored Walls”
  2. “Pretty Walk”
  3. “Keeping Me Alive”
  4. “Unplanned Holiday”
  5. “You Know”
  6. “Genealogy”
  7. “Zenzizenzizenzic”
  8. “Be There”
  9. “Insufferably”
  10. “Fun Machine”
  11. “Glimmer”
  12. “Your High-Fidelity Train Ride”