Spotlight – 5: Brilliant Colors
Brilliant Colors‘ music captures – in essence, not in sound – the early Beat Happening groove so sweetly you know it must be coincidence. So: not twee, not fey or cute or any of those other words erroneously associated with Calvin Johnson’s work. (It’s not his fault he spawned a legion of admirers who missed the point.) So: a little Alex Chilton (via his production skills, particularly in the primordial goo-goo muck) thrown into the mix, and some of that beloved sneering teen idol (choose your own: Richard Hell, Ziro Baby, Kim Gordon, Ian Svenonius). So: a whole dose of grating, not-grating guitar and clattering drums behind sparse, painfully chosen vocals. So, a sound that rattles in the corners, and doesn’t disguise frailties.
There’s been a whole bunch of talk round these parts recently about the unwelcome revival of ‘twee’ – an insult in most languages, and certainly mine. Those among us who got called ‘twee’ in the 80s – Edwyn Collins, The Pastels, Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike, The Legend! – never willingly courted the description. To us, it was all punk rock. Individualism. Refusing to follow a hackneyed and frustratingly boring male-dominated path. Much like Vivian Girls or The Lovely Eggs nowadays, right? But now, like ‘indie’, the word has become codified, indicating a style of fashion as much as an approach to music or lifestyle. Jesus. I was once called ‘the Godfather of Cutie’ (which was what twee got called in the 80s) because of my writings in NME – until I moved to Melody Maker and became ‘the Godfather of Grunge’ and thus The Anti-Cutie presumably…
I’d have been drummed out both clubs immediately, anyway. I never knew how to dress.
Sorry, I’ve become diverted.
My point is this. At no point do Brilliant Colors straddle the ‘Twee As Fuck’/punk rock line. Their music isn’t pompous, sure. It’s not going to be filling any stadiums in this or any other future. But please. This is punk rock by any definition you care to call, especially mine. It sparks fury. It sparks human response. It calls on primal levels. It sneers because it doesn’t know how else to grab attention. It repeats itself. It’s cheaply recorded. It’s inspired. It’s tinny. It begs for repeated plays and coloured vinyl and house parties and boat outings. It’s PUNK ROCK!
I have me a New New Favourite Band, OFFICIAL!