When a band loses half of its membership after the dismal sales of its debut album, the possibility of a second album coming to fruition usually dwindles. This happened to Oxford, MS band Colour Revolt. After the release of their 2008 debut Plunder, Beg and Curse failed to sell many copies, despite glowing reviews from a majority of publications, the band was dropped from their label and drummer Len Clark, guitarist Jimmy Cajoleas and bassist Patrick Addison all quit. This left lead-singer/guitarist Jesse Coppenbarger and lead-guitarist/co-vocalist Sean Kirkpatrick to start anew.
The band’s first step was filling out their lineup, which added Daniel Davison (ex-Norma Jean) on drums, Brooks Tipton on keyboards, and Hank Sullivant (MGMT producer) on bass and production. For the summer tour, Davison was replaced by Patrick Ryan on the drums because of Davison’s role as drummer for Underoath and Sullivant was replaced by Luke White. The first noticeable trait of the second album, The Cradle, is that the band has changed their sound from gritty, bluesy jams on the debut to that of scrappy energetic freak outs in the form of twin-guitar attacks.
The first track, “8 Years,” gives an account of the band’s history up to this point. According to Coppenbarger, it was written the day that Clark and Addison left the band. It also follows the belief that everything that happens in life is just based on perspective, as shown in the chorus “One man’s limo is another man’s hearse,” which is repeated as a theme throughout the song.
The second song and the first single, “Our Names,” was written at a point where the band wasn’t sure that they would continue. The turning point came when they realized that the band was more important than their names and meant something to people outside of themselves, resulting in the song. The track is a highlight of the album, featuring Coppenbarger’s strong vocals, ranging in everything from soft whispers which feature a distinctive southern twang, to soaring falsettos and gritty screams.
The third track of the album, “Heartbeat,” features a thumping bassline and also showcases Tipton on the keyboards, an instrument that is new for the band. Coppenbarger’s vocals are also delivered extremely well, ranging from gruff hollers to tender falsettos throughout the track. The guitar work of Coppenbarger and Kirkpatrick also play together extremely well in the outro of the song.
The title track is surely one of the songs intended for fans of songs like “Circus,” and “Shovel to Ground,” from the band’s self-titled EP and Plunder, Beg and Curse respectively. It is a jam that is sure to inspire fans to rock out on tour. The droning guitar lines filled with distortion to the maximum offset Coppenbarger’s tender vocals on the track.
“Everything Is The Same” is one of the softest tracks on the album and perhaps in the band’s entire catalog. Opening with only Coppenbarger’s singing over acoustic strumming by himself and lightly echoed guitar lines by Kirkpatrick, the track sounds almost reminiscent of a U2 ballad.
The track, “She Don’t Talk,” is the strongest on the album, featuring the core members soloing over each other. The song sounds like early Modest Mouse if their singer was born in the deep south. The song’s lyrics touch on bad communication, which in this case is between a man and a woman, but also could lend themselves to a band with members recently abandoning ship.
The following track, “Each Works,” continues the band’s remarkable trend of mixing one gritty distorted guitar line with a clean and reverbed guitar line. Most bands would not be able to pull off a feat like this but it is a trademark of Colour Revolt’s sound. It doesn’t hurt that Coppenbarger delivers yet another strong vocal performance. The fact that this man isn’t viewed as one of the best singers on the current scene is criminal.
The closing track, “Reno,” features the band at their instrumental best. While the band typically records everything in a setting similar to a live performance, this song was recorded with separate parts layered over each other, giving the track a bevy of guitars to satisfy those who listen with headphones.
While The Cradle may not launch Colour Revolt into super-stardom, it certainly is a step forward for a band whose future was hanging by a thread. Each of the songs paint a portrait that the listener can sink into. The Cradle takes listeners to another world just as all great albums, books and movies do. This album cannot be seen as anything short of a blow-out victory as it is one of the best of the summer. This Cinderella story may also go down as one of the top 10 of the year.