Title: Colouring Book
Released: February/March 2011
Producer: Jonathan Florencio
After not releasing any material for 9 years, Glassjaw fired out two EPs in the space of three months. The first EP ‘Our Colour Green’ (see review here) saw the band heading a new direction; unsurprising after so many years away from writing together. Whilst the last EP displayed much promise under a new style, this EP is way off the mark.
Essentially, ‘Colouring Book’ sounds like a jam session with the record button left on in the studio. Each song meanders along down the path of a single idea, without ever really attempting to wander anywhere new. There are six tracks on offer here and each one feels bloated and monotonous, despite some tracks starting off promisingly. When heard alongside each other, I intuitively think that the ‘Colouring Book’ EP must have come first, because it sounds like a group of musicians coming together after a lengthy pause to create a new sound, without really knowing where they want to take it. ‘Our Colour Green’ sounds much more refined, as though they figured out their new sound during the ‘Colouring Book’ session and went on to develop it into a series of quality songs. That, however, is not the case.
The production qualities are still the same as ‘Our Colour Green’: raw, stripped back and liberated, with all instrumentation rather loosely played. It worked a treat on the previous EP because the production complimented the songs, but this time around the songs are lacking, so the rough production ends up being an annoyance. Because each song is repetitive in its structure, there’s nothing else for the ear to focus on other than the sound of the instruments. Production of this nature is a balancing act – when it’s being done to enhance the raw quality and atmosphere of the songs on offer, it can be a powerful tool, but when the songs aren’t enough to distract attention from the lo-fi quality, it becomes an irritation.
I’m disappointment with this EP because the previous release ‘Our Colour Green’ showed great promise for a new-age Glassjaw sound. ‘Colouring Book’ falls a long way short of developing that potential, instead slipping backwards in quality of composition. Boring is an adjective that I never thought I’d use in conjunction with Glassjaw, but I’m afraid it’s an appropriate qualifier in this case. I my previous review I mentioned that although their old scene has gone stagnant, Glassjaw remain relevant due to their excitement and creativity – well it looks like the egg is on my face this time.