On the cover of Only the Lonely, the second record by indie rock quartet Colony House, the members of the band are pictured in movie theater seats. This image was well chosen, as many of the songs on the album would fit seamlessly into the soundtracks of films. With intricate instrumentation, deliciously anthemic choruses, and enough experimentation to merit multiple listens, this is an album that will paint glorious pictures in the minds of all alternative music listeners who check it out.
The adventure begins with “Cannot Do This Alone,” an enthralling song that melds the heartfelt spirit of country ballads with the awe-inspiring sound captured in Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.” We’ve all seen those commercials that show glossy cars cruising down mountainsides in the twilight or airplanes soaring over ethereal clouds. This track would be the perfect background music for one of those commercials. With epic, drawn-out “oh”s, resonant guitars, and lyrics that speak of romance as well as brotherly love, it’s bound to make you feel like tossing a dart onto a map and traveling to your destined location with a handful of partners-in-crime in tow.
The next few tracks are just as strong. “1234” is a love song that sounds a bit like One Direction’s “History” with a rock-and-roll edge. Next comes “Lonely,” which is undoubtedly the album’s crown jewel. The song begins with a simple stomp-clap beat that evokes, but doesn’t copy the famous “We Will Rock You” intro. Then vocalist Caleb Chapman adds a cry to the noise—”Sometimes I feel a little lonely”—and is promptly joined by an echo that turns the song into a haunting round for a moment. After thirty fascinating seconds of this, a bluesy guitar riff and slinky bassline appear, delivering a vibe that fans of the Black Keys will adore. Just when the track seems as if it’s about to end, a new, equally electrifying riff emerges, elevating it to a new level of awesomeness.
“You & I,” a similarly stellar track, follows. Don’t be fooled by the poppy chorus—this song is far from formulaic. At one point, the pace is slowed abruptly, creating the kind of dark, hazy atmosphere found on many an Arctic Monkeys album track. Then the song segues into a faster repetition of the chorus that is sure to get crowds moving when played live. After that, the album changes directions for “Where Your Father’s Been,” which starts out rather mildly but escalates majestically. It’s hard to say what’s the true star on this track—the vocals, switching between alto and baritone; the suspenseful bass; the urgent percussion; or the guitar flourishes, which draw the listener into the intense moment of the song and keep him or her there.
The next handful of tracks aren’t quite as exciting. “You Know It” sounds as if it can’t decide whether it wants to be a punky pump-up song or the soundtrack to a frenetic Tennessee hoedown. “3:20″‘s many musical shifts make it a bit difficult to listen to. “Was It Me” and “I Want It All” also seem somewhat disjointed at times (although the former song’s Christmas-y sounding bells are intriguing). The band gets back on track, though, for “Follow Me Down,” which sounds like the more urgent cousin of “Cannot Do This Alone.” In an impressive move, the song’s ending segues into the opening guitar riff of “Remember You,” which starts loud and ends quietly but is consistently interesting.
The last track on the album is “This Beautiful Life,” a slow song that sounds almost like a church hymn. With beautiful harmonies and a sweeping crescendo, it’s the kind of music that will have all the people in the venue waving their cell phone lights over their heads.
Only the Lonely is the fantastic alternative rock album that we needed to start 2017 off with a bang. Blast it in the car with your friends during night drives; listen to it through headphones with your eyes closed; play it around the house while you’re doing chores. This is a record that will make you appreciate not just Colony House, but the power of music in general.