Red House Painters - Down Colourful Hill
The music here is not going to appeal to everyone. At times it is so slow it becomes almost soporific in its effect. Yet it is sustained by the power of the lyrics, a sort of emo for post-adolescents; teenage angst for men who had ceased being teenagers a few years back. Yes this is a male album: it deals with a male perspective in the same way that Liz Phair's early work did from a female perspective. If you are into music where baring of souls is mandatory, then this will definitely appeal to you.
The tracks themselves relate to specific elements in the mind of Mark Kozelek, the band's lyricist and vocalist. These are personal songs. "Michael", the last track, deals with a long and deep friendship with a person who has gone wildly off the rails - "the oldest teenage delinquent". "Medicine Bottle" is an ambitious track which, at nearly ten minutes long, could have failed miserably. It deals with the loss felt following the end of a relationship due communication or commitment issues (we've all been there). Powerfully, it lays bare the fruit which these seeds bore:
"It's all in his head she read In a girlfriend's self-help book".
My favourite song is the title track, which has sufficient pace and change of mood to enrapture the listener throughout, and almost has enough of a coherent melody to make it hummable. The much-maligned "Lord Kill the Pain" does have such a melody and while the song is decent enough, it is wildly out of place on this album being faster-paced and almost as if it were a sop to record executives who wanted a single.
But while this album has its good moments, it also has its downsides. On "24" the chord change seems to be so stark as to be almost out of key. On "Japanese to English" the song suffers from Kozelek's inability to make the stress of the words follow the beat of the music (or vice versa), leading to the refrain line "English to Japanese" coming over as forced as the stress is placed on the final syllable. It comes across as so forced it is irritating and puts you off the track entirely because the mistake it makes dominates the track and you keep, subconsciously, listening for the next incarnation of it.
In the end, whether you like this is going to be down to mood. If you are male, mildly sad, alone on a starry night with a bottle of red wine sitting outside in summer, this will fit your mood perfectly. If you are ready to party it won't. If you are depressed, and I mean really depressed, avoid. This is not an album to play when you are addled drunk and contemplating the miseries of your life and wondering whether to end it. Pick the time you listen to this and see if it connects. If it does, the reward will be worth it. If not, you will pass this by in search of something more personally fulfilling.
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on 2011-05-02 CharlesMartel Said:
Mark Kozelek's best work without a doubt. This is an album I can only listen to at certain times. Good but sometimes I cannot sit around waiting for something to happen.