Chicago-based garage group Secret Colours’ two-part EP is called Positive Distractions, a title that pretty accurately describes the bouncy, buoyant and feel-good vibes that emanate from this release. (The first part came out February 4; the second part arrives April 29.) A self-proclaimed “bastard seed of ‘60s psychedelia and ‘90s Britpop bloodlines,” Secret Colours emerges as an unexpected combination of the crisp guitar of Tame Impala, the hazier melodies of the Beatles and the bass-heavy backgrounds of recent redux punks like Crocodiles or Ty Segall Band. This album follows their sophomore 2013 album, Peach, but takes a decisively different, more mature route.
The album covers a colossal amount of ground, ranging from light, bright strolling melodies like the opener, City Slicker, a song you might want to walk around to in a grungy part of town at sunset; or slower bass-heavy tunes like Heavy & Steady that sounds like the melodic equivalent of a detective novel, with mysterious falls and rises, some strange feedback effects and an air of ’60s psychedelia. Other guitar-heavy, vocally-woozy melodies like Take it Slow are strikingly sweet and familiar-sounding, lazily urging listeners to “Take it easy/Take it slow.” Then suddenly Into You combines the electro-funk sounds of groups like Fujiya & Miyagi with more catchy, conventional rock sounds. But behind every track is a consistent and irresistible combination of croony, dusky harmonies, twangy guitar chords and the vague feeling of meandering around a sun-drenched city.
With Positive Distractions, Secret Colours manages to produce a perfectly balanced neo-garage-pop album with subtle but electrifying surprises scattered throughout. Some songs propel you back into what sound like a classic, bubbly love song by the Kinks, while some, like Mrs. Bell throw in some contemporary, bouncy keyboard and synth effects. The album appropriately ends with the track Positive Distractions, a tune that sails you away into a sunset with light twinge of nostalgic harmonica and a bluesy guitar solo to bid you farewell. You’ll definitely be happy to get lost at sea with this vibrant, melodic journey.