Review Summary: One of the previous decade’s lost indie gems.
Considering the way that modern listeners eat up accessible, all-purpose indie-pop, it comes as a bit of a surprise that The Republic Tigers aren’t more of a household name. After all, their Midlake-meets-The Shins demeanor provides them with the framework and versatility to craft both memorable song structures and killer tunes whilst frequently fusing the two traits together immaculately. The band’s ability to come off as resoundingly joyful yet poignant and resolute is a trait that makes them stand out amongst their peers. However, it is their nearly flawless songwriting that catapults their overlooked debut, Keep Color
, to rare and unexpected heights.
The opening track ‘Buildings & Mountains’ is an appropriate lead off because it embodies all of Keep Color
’s strengths. Its verses carry an air of mystery, and they build just slowly enough to maximize anticipation. The chorus comes crashing in a little after the one minute mark, revealing The Republic Tigers’ pop tendencies. Complete with thoughtful but inviting vocals, foreign sounding hums, and an impossibly catchy hook, the song is an embarrassment of riches that sends the listener off on a frenzied journey through the remaining eleven tracks. The magic is not lost henceforth, with the urgent, electronic-powered ‘Golden Sand’, the MGMT-styled chorus of ‘Feelin The Future’, the subtly uplifting ‘Weatherbeaten’, and the full-sounding acoustics of ‘Air Guitar.’ Other clear highlights include the bouncy, up-tempo ‘Fight Song’ and the incredibly atmospheric ‘Stranger to the Eyes of a Child-Man’, both of which uphold Keep Color
’s keen tune sense despite what is otherwise primarily alt-rock/indie based instrumentation.
Another area in which the record succeeds is its consistency. Although it has been said before, it rings especially true here: there is not a single weak song on the album
. Every song delivers an ideal blend of indie, folk, psychedelia, and pop along with rhythmic acoustic guitars, swelling synthesizers, and melodic vocals. Combined with multiple tempo changes and unpredictable twists and turns, Keep Color
is one of those rare albums that is completely captivating for every minute of its duration. When the album slows down, it is thoughtful and brooding. When it speeds up, it is enthralling and memorable. With The Republic Tigers, it seems that pace is irrelevant because no matter how
they deliver their material, you can rest assured that they will execute their performance at the highest level.
If there is a complaint to be made with Keep Color
, it is probably that there is a sense of familiarity throughout. However, it never crosses the threshold into “too familiar”, seeing as The Republic Tigers are able to put their own unique spin on everything they do. From start to finish, this is one of the most immediately satisfying albums you will likely ever hear, and even though it has flown below the radar for the better part of the past three years, now is as good of a time as any to immerse yourself in its captivating simplicity.