New Color’s debut album Open Heart Surge Through Me has a vaguely familiar sound done in a way that separates itself from what’s been done before. The three-piece from Chicago’s south suburbs combines intricate guitar licks with rolling bass lines to go over heavy-hitting drums. Moreover, everything is layered nicely with the vocal stylings of Pat Mitchell.
All three members of the band hail from Oak Forest, a quaint town about 20 minutes south on I-57. Mitchell and drummer Brendan Smyth have played together previously in bands De Triomphe and Hellbender, while bassist Marty Silha was in Chicago band Fruedian Slip.
The album opens with “Pink Cheeks,” a song featuring galloping guitar riffs and lyrics swimming through a stream-of-consciousness. The song sets the perfect tone of hectic instrumentals complemented by a literary-device-driven vocals that we hear throughout the album. “Pink Cheeks” has an addicting quality in its melody, calling you to play it back again.
The band’s chaotically jazzy style continues through the album as alliteration and assonance take us through the lyrically colorful “Pneumatic.” Also featured are bits of onomatopoeia and moments of scatting in “Rattlecans” and “L’appel du Vide.”
If there were one word to describe this album, it would be “dynamic.” Most well-rounded albums feature songs varying from major to minor keys, fast to slow pacing, and dabbling in different genres of music. New Color didn’t just incorporate these dynamics in the album as a whole, but into their songs individually. Almost every single song shifts between major and minor, speeds up then slows down, and varies in style from jazz to hardcore to emo. “Synaesthetic Amalgamation” is the epitome of their style, starting with a pleasant, melodic guitar riff that moves fast into dissonance and subsequent syncopated strumming.
It’s not until the ninth track, “Naked Falls,” that we hear the title of the album. We also hear a duet vocal style, much like we did on “Pink Cheeks.” This time, however, instead of a call-and-response format, the pairing vocals intertwine, constantly reminding the listener of the title of the album surging in-and-out of the listener’s ears.
The album comes to a nice close with “Defiler.” The song starts out similarly to “Synaesthetic Amalgamation” with a pleasant sounding guitar riff playing in a higher-octave. But this time, the song keeps more of a major-sounding feel, ending on a short-lived flurry of harmonics that satiate your ears one last time.
At the album’s end, it’s stunning to realize this was all done with just one guitar, drums, a bass, and virtually no recording effects. In today’s day in age of incessant synthesizers and an over-abundance of modulation pedals, it’s refreshing to hear a three-piece band put together such a well-crafted album so organically.