Review Summary: Wade Out, Brace Fear
For close to three years STATIC COLOURS have grabbed the attention of the Melbourne Alt-Rock scene with their unique blend of lo-fi indie, post rock and garage pop, and their debut EP is a reflection of the musical maturity they exude, and the songwriting prowess of singer Nick Gati. After a band name change, musical and stylistic adaptations and a growing arsenal of guitar pedals, STATIC COLOURS have captured something truly brilliant and original, while showing their influences and appropriating them perfectly.
STATIC COLOURS sound is difficult to define due to the vast cross pollination of sounds they inhabit, but opening track Sun Swells harks back to local heroes Sleepmakeswaves and builds archaically into something magnificent. From the interlocking bass and guitar melodies to the climactic drumming, the songs sub three minute running time belies its power. One of STATIC COLOURS greatest strengths is their ability to structure their songs and carefully position melodies and vocals in the mix. This is displayed most effectively on single She Wastes Wine, in which the guitars build up and down flawlessly and end with a pounding outro. Album closer Mend is pertains to this same formula, gliding effortlessly into a booming chorus and then subsiding momentarily into a Godspeed You! Black Emperor inspired spoken word passage before bursting again.
The guitar work of Lachlan Stewart is particularly strong and Stewart finds a balance between catchy, melodic riffs, slowed picked sections and smartly written solos. His chord progressions on Sun Swells are interesting and he adds embellishments wherever possible, creating layers of depth and transforming songs into elaborate compositions. His guitar solo on Mend soars above a catchy, boisterous bassline and his playing in the buildup is elegant, understated and executed with precision. Elsewhere, Stewart's power chords in She Wastes Wine and guitar riffs in Funeral Dancers provide exceptional drive and display his proficiency. His use of effect pedals is also one of the key components of the album and he incorporates a multitude of sounds in his repertoire. From the glowing reverb on Sun Swells, to the crisp, clinical delay in Mend, Stewart continually finds ways to adorn his performance. His use of distortion is tempered and he allows songs to play out organically before pushing them into overdrive.
Similarly, the basslines on the EP are catchy, efficient and complement Hillary's drumming superbly. The end bassline melody on Sun Swells is shines, as does Gati's solo on She Wastes Wine and despite lacking some technical ability, Gati maintains some strong rhythmic playing. His bass tone is at times however, predictable and he lacks some imagination in Funeral Dancers.
Lyrically the EP is focused, mature and displays a great level of poetic propensity and perfectly positioned prose. The opening verse to She Wastes Wine typify Gati's unique style as he capably states "She'll me dancing through me soon" and "I waste inside her too" with great conviction. Many of the lyrical themes centre on personal oppression, isolation and depression and his lines in Mend reiterate his emotional detachment with the chorus line of "This uniform as ever/it must fit you better/it must fit you better/our cold war is here" exemplify his internal, discordant struggle. His voice is at times polarising, with his nasal delivery and occasionally pedestrian phrasing. He shows a great level of dynamic engagement though, shifting from soft and melodic in Mend to powerful and potent in She Wastes Wine. On Sun Swells and Funeral Dancers however, he's detached and melodically disinterested.
Hillary also shows a high level of engagement, and like Stewart ,possesses great technicality, combined with a penchant for tight cohesive playing. On She Wastes Wine his tom rolls and disco beats frantically drive the rhythm section. His flourishes and memorable cross beats on Funeral Dancers are particular highlights, and his steady, smooth rhythmic transitions keep the song interesting and contrast the chorus especially. He adopts this similar philosophy in Sun Swells, waiting patiently in Sun Swells before finally introducing his snare drum. Hillary's transitions are smooth and he keeps creating interesting, well maintained beats and neat drum fills.
The last instrument, the viola, also perpetuates the sonic inclinations of the EP and Hutchison expands in the ethereal sounds created by his counterparts. On Mend, the viola shines in the breakdown and also matches the gorgeous guitar tones on Sun Swells.
Despite its obvious flaws, this EP is a promising first step into what is likely to be a great career. With improvements made to their sound, production and a natural progression in their songwriting STATIC COLOURS are set the take the Melbourne indie rock scene by storm, catapulting them into the international arena.
-Interesting, original compositions
-Great guitar playing
-Production is a little patchy
-Gati's voice polarising