Review Summary: Just good, clean, indie rock fun. Oh, and some damn good music.
‘Colour It In’ is an album most notable for its brilliant energy and pure enjoyment of music accompanied by playful, cleverly structured and thoughtful lyrics. These are all particularly evident on ‘X-Ray’, a song written before the band had any significant exposure at all, and really were just writing music for the hell of it, if that’s not too romantic. ‘Good Old Bill’ gets us off to what can only be described as a confusing start, with the introduction of characters such as ‘Spearmint Rhino’ before plunging into the album’s first solo and laying some seriously good groundwork musically for what’s to come. ‘X-Ray’ most effectively encapsulates what the whole record is about
: joyfully playful lyrics sung in an upbeat, yet weirdly mournful voice; the drumming of a possessed madman and guitar solos that refuse to accept any kind of second space to the vocals.
The wonderfully energetic chaos of ‘Latchmere’ gives the album its first big adrenaline shot, and the Maccabees hardly look back from there. The band has a quality somewhat lacking in modern music: they know when to end a song. ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ has only three songs over three-and-a-half minutes long, and most are less than three. This is because The Beatles knew that a song is often more powerful, and stays longer in the mind, if it isn’t a six, or even twenty minute epic with eight refrains, two solos, and a bridge at the end that never seems to end. The tracks on ‘Colour It In’ follow a similar philosophy; we do absolutely excuse the protracted guitar solo in the middle of ‘Precious Time’ (which is, in turn, in the middle of the album, giving the whole thing a nice sense of balance). Even when the album tries to slow down during ‘O.A.V.I.P’, drummer Sam Doyle seems unwilling to allow any slackening of pace, keeping up a frenetic drumbeat even as Orlando Weeks croons ‘the slow depart, happening again’. In fact, it’s only during the first ten seconds of ‘First Love’, during which time Doyle is given a rest (by this time, he must have blisters on his fingers) that the band drifts into a moment of quiet reflection. The only purpose this serves is to make their inevitable transition into a cacophony of intelligently co-ordinated noise all the more effective.
Oddly, their most well-known song from the album, ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, is drastically different from everything else on the record. While the lyrics still contain the same playful genius (it’s called ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ for Chrissakes!), the whistling section, and crackly, record-player style opening and ending seem strangely out of place on such an all-go, upbeat album. In many ways, it seems like something of an afterthought, a brilliant brainwave that couldn’t be cast aside. The best way of viewing it, then, is probably in that way, as an afterthought, something extra to really stick with you when you’ve finished the album. If you remember one thing about ‘Colour It In’, it will probably be the peculiarly laid-back song that the album closed on, and when that song’s as good as ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, what’s wrong with that?