I have listened to The Color, the debut release from Yellowbirds, countless times over the last couple months and, though I don’t have the liner notes, I have reached a somewhat definitive conclusion; I am convinced that Willy Wonka manned the boards for these recording sessions. Surely Wonka got Sam Cohen – the Brooklyn based guitarist of Apollo Sunshine and driving force behind his solo project, Yellowbirds – hopped up on Wonka chocolate bars and Fizzy Lifting Drinks before heading to the studio. How else can one explain the ethereal, hypnotic, and utterly sweet sounds on this record?
The Color is equal parts songwriter magic and indie-pop glow. Cohen’s work here is masterful; he surrounds his eloquent prose with a stunning blend of synth-pop, effects driven guitar work, and acoustic folksiness. That is not a blend easily crafted.
The record begins with the ponderings of “The Rest of My Life” and then easily wanders through “Rings in the Trees” and “Beneath the Reach of Light.” After the spacey “The Color II,” the record rollicks with “The Honest Ocean.” By far my favorite track on the record, “The Honest Ocean” rocks with distorted, fuzzy guitars – almost as if they were drenched in cotton candy – and trippy effects. Other highlights include the meandering keyboards in “Pulaski Bridge” and the indie rock vibe of “Our Good Days Are Gone.”
While I am not familiar with Cohen’s work with Apollo Sunshine, I am a big, big fan of what he is doing with Yellowbirds. Each time I listen to The Color, I am able to peel back another layer of sound; it seems that there is always something new to savor. The record is not unlike an Everlasting Gobstopper – it’s candy for my ears, and it is good enough to last a long, long time.
The Color is out now on Royal Potato Family.