Color, Darin Murphy

Record Review

Color

Are You With Me? (Arista)

Darin Murphy

Haunted Gardenias (Rafgard) More than anything -- and no doubt the only good thing it's wrought -- the rise of boy bands and Britney Spears has made pop music fashionable again. Austin's mid-Nineties power pop boys Seed toned down their grunge guitars for gleaming harmonies, and those same priorities hold true for Color, which has risen from said fallow soil. Unfortunately, nothing about Color's left-field major label debut is toned down, Are You With Me? defined by an explosive pop sound that's sadly as bland as the group's chosen moniker. Think present day Aerosmith, working on "What Good Is It," but not on midtempo hum-drummers "Alright" and "Say Goodbye," or big chorus clap-traps like "Out of Order" and "I Feel Sorry." Local pop singer-songwriter Darin Murphy could no doubt have used some of Color's recording budget for his Haunted Gardenias. Playing most of the instruments himself, Murphy's disc suffers from the stiff feel of studio-stitched backing tracks. Though he's no Pete Yorn, Murphy's smart-boy vocals almost save the day despite the fact that as a lyricist, he can be distressingly David Cassidy ("Masterpiece"). "Boxing Day," on the other hand, treading Jakob Dylan's brand of bassline brilliance, is everything this album aspires to be. Same goes for the Blur-ish "Blackberry Plain," which could use a radio edit. "Flat" couldn't be more so, while the pair of "Ginger Granite" and "Gina Gardenia" flirt with success. As does Haunted Gardenias.

(Color) *.5

(Murphy) **.5

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