Review Summary: On Colors it’s the blues and reds that are emphasized but the blacks and whites that stand out.
No Second Troy are trying to be more than your average indie pop band. On 2006’s Narcotic
, the D.C. quintet displayed a strong sense of melody but little else but chugging guitars and a steady tom beat. At times vocalist Jeff Wharen channeled Isaac Slade, other times Thomas Mars, but at all times the album floated along on a false sense of cheeriness that might have been genuine, but the music quite honestly felt a bit too contrived to tell. With Colors
, things have changed. It’s not as if the band is attempting to shed their image (quite the contrary); the album cover remains as bright and vibrant as ever and tracks like “Grounded” are still shamelessly chugging along. But while No Second Troy wants their listeners to take in the pulsating reds, yellows and blues from Colors
, it’s the blacks and whites that make the album stand out.
Years of supporting bands with far more years such as Coldplay have given the youngsters’ sound a much-needed professional jolt, but they’re certainly not all grown up yet. The opening tracks rattle with the exhilaration of youth, summer and love, and while it’s charming for a few listens, it’s also noticeably close to the vest. The guitars have also been significantly toned down from Narcotic
, a move that threatens to throw the band further into Snow Patrol-spinoff territory, but instead opens more room for experimentation, and thankfully so. Acoustic guitars, electric beats and pianos all pop up sparingly throughout the record and add a fresh, diverse feel.
But even when he sings that “all this talking is a bore” and pleads to his companion that “this is the last time we lose control,” Wharen sounds like a man no longer blissfully unaware of when all the fun will end. Colors
has a dark, edgy, tinge that may not be evident throughout the record’s entirety, but undoubtedly shines when it is. On “The Argonaut,” he goes as far as to question “How will I last?” and all of a sudden the playful, carefree vibes are swapped with some much more chilling, if only for a second. No Second Troy hits their equilibrium on “Wake Up,” a piano-infused balance between the primary and secondary hues that reaches its stride near its midway point and never relents, closed by a Viva la Vida-esque choir.
When No Second Troy finds their sweet spot, the results are impressive, but too often on Colors
the band ruins their flow with a bit too much filler or an amateurish interlude. Still, it’s an impressive step forward for a band that seems bent on progressing and offers a bright glimpse to the quintet’s future.