Posted by: Jeff | February 22, 2012

Album Review: Graffiti6 – “Colours”

Graffiti6 – Colours [Buy Here]

Capitol Records
Release Date: January 2012
Grade: A-

Graffiti6 – ‘Free’

Graffiti6 may be just another in a long line of collaborations between young singer-songwriters (Jamie Scott) and veteran pop producers (Tommy Danvers) looking to cross over into mainstream pop, but they outpace their peers on this fantastic debut album that meshes Scott’s folk sensibilities seamlessly with Danvers’ pop grooves.  “Colours” is remarkable in that it establishes a cohesive identity for a young band across an entire LP, giving the band a fun, mature sound that many mature pop acts would envy.  Though the stylistic ranging from the propulsive percussive funk on opener “Stone In My Heart” and the nu-jazz cool of “Calm the Storm” and “Lay Me Down” is great, the album avoids the schizophrenic stylistic pitfalls that befall other creative collaborations like Gnarls Barkley.

The strengths of the album are numerous, and there are more than a few standout tracks.  “Stone In My Heart”, “Stare Into The Sun”, “Free” and “Never Look Back” are radio-ready singles, with polished pop grooves and sing-along choruses.  Yet unlike many contemporary pop bands, Graffiti6 evoke emotion in Scott’s soulful voice in a way not heard on pop radio outside of Adele.  It’s this wonderful juxtaposition between folk sentimentality and rhythm and blues that make the band’s sound unique and widely accessible.  Scott’s vocal bravado on tracks like “Stare Into The Sun” has garnered him comparison to Adam Levine, but his range and pathos are not so wooden and hollow as his Maroon 5 counterpart.

Lyrically, the album doesn’t offer a lot of depth or substance, though there is some creativity on tracks like “Goodbye Geoffrey Drake”, written from the perspective of a remorseful spurned lover on death row.  Overall, the lyrics rely a little too heavily on stilted metaphors about colors and rainbows that seem silly in contrast to Scott’s earnest delivery and the refreshing production that resists the vogue over-produced pop bombast so common on contemporary radio.  Instead, Danvers masterfully crafts funky rhythms and off-kilter percussion that accentuate rather than drown Scott’s soulful vocals.

Slower tracks like “Colours” and “Goodbye Geoffrey Drake” shimmer, and the title track is Danvers’ richest soundscape offered here, awash with soothing guitar and a beautiful synth line reminiscent of the chillout pop made popular by fellow Brits Zero 7.  Album finale “Over You”, while the most divergent track on the album, features a vocal from Scott that might sound natural on a Justin Timberlake album, highlighting his natural proclivity for soul and emotion.  “Foxes”, a stellar track on the band’s 2011 EP, is an unfortunate omission, but perhaps a sign that the band has more creative output than can fit on just one album.

Though the band stretches itself stylistically over the course of the LP, only one track (“This Man”) has the misfortune of feeling out of sync with the rest of the band’s creative output.  Coupled with some unfortunate lyrical choices (enough with the metaphors!), there are some shortcomings to the record, but overall “Colours” stands as a very impressive debut from a band poised for a big year.

For Fans of: Gnarls Barkley, Bruno Mars, Zero 7, Soul, Pop-Rock

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