Ever since the release of their 2017 debut Vera, being full to bursting with catchy loops and minimalist content, many have been waiting with bated breath for a second release from Perth-based electronic trio Crooked Colours. The three make use of a very sparse electronic sound, one not focused on sick, nasty drops like you might get out of something like the EDM scene, notorious for their layers upon layers upon layers. This is thinking music for when you want to cut a rug at the same time, if you will, like indietronica archetypes Alt-J. In this new sound left by stripping back the bleeps and bloops to their essential components, paired with a rugged whispering, is ultimately both a sad and sensual thrill to the ear.
While the opening track “I’ll Be There” is all too evocative of the same tropical house samples that guarantee any single to rocket to the top of the charts as a certified dance hit, a compliment as it was intended, the following “Do It Like You” is the one that really stands out – being simultaneously energetic, using the rattling of bones for the beat, and slyly melancholic in its lyrical content and backwards bass chord loop. It really gives the impression of downing several uppers at a nightclub and stumbling down a street you’re not familiar with at three in the morning.
This minimalist groove and suggestively dark mood continues through with the third track, “Heart String”, in which the energetic mood enhanced by the clap samples turns to listing off all the things that could make up a good evening (“little bit of dancing, little bit of romancing, come a little closer, make a little love”) across a sparse, echoing soundscape. It may be a bit concerning to go from something more upbeat and dance-worthy to the more pensive tracks like “Just Breathe” and “I C Light”, which are very low and slow by comparison, but things quickly get back to their bopping regularity with “Hold On”, if you pay less mind to the pensive tone of the lyrics.
The more melancholy lyrical content comes to a head in “Mirror Ball”, which could be posited as a hybrid between the slower, sadder tracks and the ones that make you want to move your feet; fluctuating between jungle rhythms and suspiciously Alt-J-adjacent vocal harmonies and detailing how much the protagonist of the song misses someone.
The penultimate feature, “Never Dance Alone” – which sounds like it might be the best produced track on the album – happens to feature the one and only Pip Brown, aka Ladyhawke, the New Zealand musician many might still remember for her mainstay 2008 hit “My Delirium”, who’s refreshingly higher-pitched vocals manage to cut through the usual intimate whispering of the lead vocalist. The lead vocals do manage to set the mood quite effortlessly for what is an otherwise low-tone ballad.
The album calumniates with a near-acoustic sum of its parts, asking over and over again how we could “Lose Someone” over an empty, echoing vacuum cross-examining the vibes present in all tracks proceeding.
Crooked Colours seem to be an excellent addition to the experimental electronic genre currently championed by those who position themselves as prim and proper alternatives to the boisterous EDM scene. It might be all to evident of the rather traumatic state of the modern listener that we need to oversaturate ourselves with content of such a despairing nature, obsessing over and over again on what small actions might have led to that terrible breakup, but that by no means has to result in the sounds it inspires being dreary, tepid twanging. Instead, we are given the opportunity to move our feet.
Langata is released Friday 17th May via Sweat It Out