Colour the Atlas is labeled an alternative/trip hop band, but I find it more accurate to compare the liveliness found on Amethyst to 2000s UK rock. And the more thrilled I got about this revelation, the more I thought vocalist and key player, Jess Hall, resembled the one and only pop-punk princess, Avril Lavigne. Don’t let this confuse you though–Colour the Atlas may involve a recently-retired pop punk sound, but they’ve put a contemporary, soulful spin on it.
It’s more than the texturizing of swelling piano, emotive guitar riffs, and rocky percussion–the vocals most effectively aggrandize emotion. “Scared” features head-turning male and female vocals that somehow never compete with the pop-rock instrumentation. Hall’s voice soars on “Lighter,” where her confidence in range is Aguilera-esque. And “Sweet Harmony” takes the amplification down a notch with a pairing of breathy, smoky male and female vocals.
Variance in instrumentation peaks during “Hold Me Down,” a charming mix of luscious vocals, rich bass, and even glimpses of soulful guitar lines that are all initiated by exotic bits of percussion. Lyrics like, “Hold me down and make me feel/Take me anywhere but here/Show me love and show me fear,” give this track soul.
But it was “I’ll Be Your Lover” that clung to my heart like a Joss Stone song. Once the beat drops, there is a No Doubt feel that had me hooked, especially with the breezy vocals that drift through the dreamy trip-hop. I can imagine “I’ll Be Your Lover” as the opening song on the Ten Things I Hate About You soundtrack. It’s a pair of high-waisted jeans, a crop top, and short/spiky hair in song form.
Colour The Atlas hasn’t missed their time; they’re just bringing it back, alternative/trip hop style. —Rachel Haney