Before going forward, let’s get the pertinent details about Brilliant Colors out of the way. This is an all-girl three-piece from San Francisco that’s had releases on Captured Tracks, Make a Mess, and now Slumberland. Based on this information alone, you’re probably halfway to an opinion right now. And the nice thing is that Brilliant Colors understands and respects that. Their debut full-length measures 10 songs long, clocking in at barely over 20 minutes of straightforward pop hooks without any adornment.
Canonical influence and scene taxonomy have always existed, but the metastasis of boutique basement labels and jamming econo applying to online social networks instead of the interstate system has meant an explosion of likeminded bands. It’s also become much easier to connect the dots of indie rock and pop music history in general. Every song here rocks in almost exactly the same way, at exactly the same speed, but swapping out different hooks to fit the mood template. Echoes of songs past are inescapable. If you like “I Searched,“ you’re probably really feeling Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s “This Love is Fucking Right,” Girls’ “Lust for Life,” or Summer Cats’ “In June.” German pop music? “Absolutely Anything” is a dead ringer for “99 Luft Balloons,” but without the synths. And if it’s Black Tambourine, the Raincoats, or any number of their prominent derivatives like the Vivian Girls that you’re interested in, well … really, take your pick.
This is not to say the record isn’t enjoyable. It’s somewhat refreshing how single-minded each song is, as they’ve got something for basically anyone who likes mid-tempo guitar melodies. And there are times when they create something that feels brand new despite the borrowed vocabulary, like the looping Comet Gain of “English Cities,” or the phenomenal Wipers riffs on “You Say You Want.”
When it comes down to it, though, there are bands out there that are doing more with just as little. They never reach the arrhythmic innovation of Grass Widow, or the brilliant simplicity of the Beets, two records that I’ll be reaching for a long time after these songs get lost in the noise. But by remaining unassuming and direct, this introduction accomplishes all it sets out to do. Brilliant Colors understand to stick to what you know, and keep it short and sweet – a couple of platitudes that serve this band well.