Orange Yellow Red: A Rose Made of Galaxies (Saint Marie Records, 2013)

Orange Yellow Red: A Rose Made of Galaxies (Saint Marie Records, 2013)

by Jason

oyr-armgOrange Yellow Red, or OYR, are a British shoegaze, dream-pop band consisting of Philip, Emma, and Ross (plays guitar live). The band formed in 2008 and was instantly well received. However, it wouldn’t be till A Rose Made of Galaxies that they would put out their first album in 2013. They spent four years crafting their songs and planning out their debut disc, not wanting to rush. The disc overall is filled with lush, blissed-out guitars, various synths, and beautiful vocals. It is 11 songs that plays in the influential wheel house of the Cocteau Twins and The Cure. Both Philip and Emma lend vocals that sound like they are effortless. Throughout the album, their voices sit on a bed of blissful pop, sometimes more melancholy than at other moments. Thematically, the disc is about the difficulties of relational discord and the pain and confusion that comes with it.

The album opens with “Into Your Arms”, a track with jangly guitars and a marching beat that supports and lifts Emma’s bright, relaxing vocals. Philip’s drum work is solid right from the beginning of the LP and continues throughout. His rhythmic choices lend a playful sense to the overall pop feel. “All the Hopes” has a trip-hop beat blended with a Suzanne Vega pop sensibility mixed with blissed out shoegaze guitars. Philip makes his vocal debut here at the end of the track. The lyrics are melancholy and speak of longing which creates a wonderful juxtaposition to the atmosphere of the music. “The Sea” has a Cocteau Twins style arrangement with sparkly guitars and thundering toms. Philip and Emma trade off singing with Emma taking the chorus.

Echoes of love in the sky
The memories that still go by
What it feels to touch the sky
When all the hope is lost inside
It makes me cry
The path we choose
I am still haunted

The song seems to be about the desperate struggle of two people in love attempting to salvage a relationship which has hit rocky shores.

“Some Things Are” begins with Cure like synths ala “Just Like Heaven”. By this fourth song, the listener begins to sense a theme of relational longing, dysfunction, and rupture that permeates the album. “Some Things Are” is the first song which Philip fronts throughout and he proves himself to be on equal footing with Emma. Philip sings:

Don’t wanna go there now
Don’t wanna feel the pain
Don’t wanna lie awake at night
Something in your eyes
Tells me that it’s not right
Don’t wanna be here on my own

The overall track is a brilliantly composed pop tune and the chorus and bridge explode with layers of guitars and synths which act as foils to the quieter moments in the song. “A Long Goodbye” has a sort of bossa nova percussion feel to it with glittering guitars and dreamy synth. Emma lends her ethereal voice to this track, creating an otherworldly feel. The track changes from a sparse arrangement to a more layered and loud feel around the 2:11 mark. The theme of relational longing continues and so does the impressive, brilliant pop arrangement. The outro on this piece is a standout on the disc with brilliant guitar work by Philip.

“We Ran” is almost instantly loud with walls of sound creating a soundscape for Emma’s vocals to sit among. It flows into “Shattered” which has this lovely pulsing melody. Given the theme of prior songs, the title is indeed indicative of a shattered relationship represented in the lyrics. It’s a mournful, Cocteau Twinsesque track that floats along through the speakers with Emma’s ghostly voice pleading for resolution. This atmosphere and feel continues through “Always Tomorrow”. However, when the 9th track on the disc comes around, “Thunder”, there is a bit of a change in sound and texture. The guitar on this track is acoustic and sits opposite more subtle electric guitar and sparse synths. There are so many tracks on this disc that should be singles and played widely on the radio. They are wonderfully crafted pop songs with so much of the shoegaze, bliss-pop feel melded flawlessly together. “Thunder” is definitely one of those tracks.

The finale of this ten song disc (there is an 11th bonus track) is aptly entitled “The Last Song”, with Philip filling in as the male voice in this back and forth conversations of longing, loss, and tortured souls in a difficult relationship. It’s clear that neither of the players in this back and forth are listening and that, quite frankly, seems to be at the heart of the torment for both.

I love you
It’s the best I can do
I love you
Can’t you see that it’s true?
I’d move the ocean for you.

I’m not the one you always wanted
I’m not the one for her
I’m not the one you always wanted
I’m not the one for her

The self-doubt and heartache just drip out of the speakers among the listing vocals and blissed out composition. While that is the finish of the B side on the vinyl album, “Of Yesterday” was included on a special 7” and was released as a bonus track on the CD. Quite honestly, this track is more than worthy of a place on the album. It has this slower, purposeful rhythm and my favorite bass work on the disc (Emma is also the bass player). It also sits within the theme of the overall album and feels like it “belongs”.

OYR have put together a set of blissed out pop songs worthy, individually, of attention. However, the album as a whole is even more impressive given its coherence, arrangements, and careful song selection and order. Further, and not yet mentioned, the packaging for this album is just gorgeous. It really expresses the overall sound of the disc in visual form. That said, A Rose Made of Galaxies should be in every shoegaze, bliss-pop fan’s library and in heavy rotation.

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