[Reviewed by Damiano Lanzi]
Red Painted Red is a duo from Manchester formed by Yew and Simon Carroll, now at their third album after “Colours” and “I Am Nothing” (respectively dated 2009 and 2011). Their music could be described as “trip-hop”, even if this is a categorization that is not specific at all and includes a fragmented multitude of styles. But in the end this is what Red Painted Red do: they mix a lot of inspirations from all the electronic and club scene. Above all there are the subtle, at times almost whispered female vocals, coherent with the “new age” leaning of some lyrics (“It’s Real”, “Rhythm of Life”). While the vocals remain in this well-defined range (aside from some soul-esque detours in “I’m No Johnny Cash” and “Don’t Give Up the Sun”), the music below seems to proceed on a completely different rail, and the effect may be unsettling at a first listen: you instinctively feel that the vocals should push the emotional range a little further. Instead, what Red Painted Red does here is to invert the thesis according to which (at least in pop music) the vocals should drive the emotional direction of a song. As soon as you accept this inversion, you will focus on the musical base and see how incredibly faceted and rich in nuances it is. The change of focus may be destabilizing at first, but the result is original and refreshing. The best examples are probably “Late November”, where the base moves as a sine curve to mark all the peaks on the lyrical side, and “Her Hair”, that bears some resemblance to Portishead, but with a darker feel marked by the decadent lyrics and the distorted barks at the end. And again “20 Floors”, where the vocals are spoken in a distant way, but every element, whether it be a note, a guitar glide, a glitch, a bell sound or a noise, is put into place as if it’s the accent on a word, something that necessarily completes its meaning. Another curious thing to notice in this song is the author’s interest for numerology, that recurs all over the album, adding an esoteric layer to it all.