By ELI JACE >
Singer Daryl Palumbo steps out with new group Color Film.
Since the razor blade menacing of New York act Glassjaw went on an unofficial hiatus after 2002’s Worship & Tribute, singer Palumbo has veered more toward making some kind of a dance record. The short-lived, Head Automatica, was one attempt, but too often the songs slid into grotesque pop territory. With his new group, Color Film’s debut, Living Arrangements, he gets pretty damn close to hitting the mark.
Epitaph put out Living Arrangements this past June, but it’s a project that’s been years in the making. In 2012 Palumbo met up with Richard Penzone in New York to fuss with song ideas. In 2013 they released the single “Until You Turn Blue,” but that track doesn’t appear here. They’ve done a few short tours since and have now spit out 12 great songs.
“We’d Kill Each Other” enters the room like a swarm of bees. The high-hat ricochets.
Synths buzz quickly around. Palumbo still sounds like his panicked self. Like his eyeballs are popping out in three sizes. Whatever has prevented him from screaming for new Glassjaw songs is not evident here. His voice is full-throated and unrestrained. Palumbo refines his voice beyond the screw-swallowing of Glassjaw and lets it soar. On “Small Town” Palumbo sings about an achingly monotonous Saturday. It is a closely shaved piece of Talking Heads funk. The bass clangs like a nickel-filled mason jaw cartwheeling down a staircase. “Crawling in Circles” opens with thick abrasions from a horn section. Palumbo whispers in the jungle vibe dreamscape tip-toeing over the xylophone.
The emotional peak of the album comes with “Bad Saint.”
It opens with a soothing guitar arpeggio and Palumbo’s sweeping distressed vocals. “Bass 7” is like sped-up King Crimson. “Even If It Did Exist” drifts away into a Cure-like vat of reverb. The previously released, “52 Minds,” cruises a punchy bassline into a John Hughes movie melody. For long-time Glassjaw fans, Living Arrangements might not be quite enough to tide you over until their long-awaited, much seethed for, third album. But, it’s not a bad soundtrack for vodka in the late afternoon and proof that Palumbo can continue working when he decides to put the scorched chords on ice.