If ‘commercial,’ ‘mainstream,’ and ‘pop’ are words that scare you, be very afraid; if not – enjoy Article One!
Colors and Sounds
Artist: Article One
Time: 14 tracks / 60:02
Those that consider ‘commercial,’ ‘mainstream,’ and ‘pop’ to be dirty words might have a hard time with the sophomore release from Article One, Inpop’s radio-ready import from Canada. Of course, being easily accessible to a mainstream audience of Christian music fans doesn’t mean that the music isn’t good – U2 also has broad mainstream appeal – but it helps to define the general territory that this band covers. There’s a fine line where art, passion, talent, and communication skills overlap to form something special, and even though Article One is not there yet, they do offer more than the average CCM product churned out of Nashville, conveyor-belt style.
Inpop is the label created by the newsboys’ Peter Furler, and Tedd T is the producer that worked on Mute Math’s stunning debut project – these are the two elements that worked with Article One to create Colors and Sounds – and it shows. There’s an undeniable sense of a newsboys ‘vibe’ about the full, chord-driven pop sound of the band but it’s tempered by Tedd T’s production, which lends a more modern rock sensibility to the proceedings. The songs, written mostly by Nathan Piche (who also contributes vocals, and plays guitar and keyboards) and his brother Matt (vocals and violin) exist in the same musical universe as those boys from Australia, with similar vocal sounds and bouncy pop rhythms. The songs succeed most when the presence of Matt’s violin takes a more meaningful role – it’s an element that makes the band unique and opens the door for some melodic experimentation, and works well on pop ballads like “Never Too Late to Call,” which might remind some more seasoned listeners of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, one of the few successful pop bands to incorporate violin lines into their songs.
This is not a lyrically profound album; most of the songs deal with relationships and / or Christian life issues – OK, so I guess that stuff is pretty profound, but things are kept pretty basic here in a decidedly pop environment. One of the most intriguing songs is the mostly-instrumental “Looking For Angels,” which starts out very much in Tedd T / Mute Math territory, with electronic sounds fading in and being joined by a punchy drum pattern and piano riff. It’s a melodic ambient vignette and a nice bridge to its companion-piece, “Angels,” which continues Dave De Smit’s tight, up-front drumming. The ‘smaller’ sound of these two tracks would be a good direction for Article One to take – a step away from the big pop sound that tends to hide the band’s charm as a more intimate musical unit. Mark Laidman’s bass lays a good foundation throughout the album and stands out most when the mix gets less crowded.
The Piche brothers are obviously the center of the band, handling not only the vocals and song writing, but the signature violin sound as well. The vocals are delivered competently, in a style that’s serviceable to the songs but certainly not distinctive.
The project ends with “Peace ‘Till We Meet Again,” which once again shows the band in a more instrumental mode, featuring some plucked strings and a nice melodic lead line from Matt’s violin, crisp drumming mixed right up-front (very reminiscent of Darren King) and some creative electronic alterations in the rhythm department, compliments of Tedd T, I imagine. This is a very good way to end a pop album by a band that has the potential to step beyond the pop sphere. Sometimes smaller is better, and this band might shine a lot more in a less polished setting.
Still, if you’re looking for a very good pop album that will give you a little more than you expected, Colors and Sounds might be just what you need.
3 ½ TOCKS.