The Colour of Spring is a transition album, as Talk Talk moved away from the 80s synth-pop that produced such new wave hits as “It’s My Life” and “Talk Talk.” To me the album has just the right amount of accessibility and avant-garde. Later albums would be much more ambient and free-form, but this one only leads the way to that ethereal quality that was prevalent on those last two Talk Talk records. It’s evident that leader Mark Hollis wanted to go in a deeper more complex direction by the players he asked to assist in the making of this record. Steve Winwoood, Robbie McIntosh and Morris Pert all have followings in progressive rock circles.
Opener “Happiness Is Easy” shows the way of this new direction with the marriage of the rhythmic nature of the earlier style to a new latter-day Roxy Music-like ambient nature. The use of the children’s choir on this song is inspired. “Life’s What You Make It” is another good example of the kind of more upbeat pieces here, with the lower keys of the piano driving the song rhythmically in place of a bass guitar. The harmonica adds much to “Living In Another World,” as it helps push the song’s pace.
There is a nice mixture of these beat-driven tunes with slower, almost gloomy songs throughout the album. The calm, yet dynamic songs are best represented by “April 5th” and “Chameleon Day.” These minimalistic and delicate songs pave the way to latter efforts, but it is the mixture of both kinds of songs that makes this particular record so appealing.
This is difficult music to describe and not your typical prog fare. The songwriting at times reminds me a bit of Peter Gabriel or early Genesis, though the production and execution does not. It is alternative and deep, not really new wave. Compare it to Japan, Bill Nelson or Roxy Music in some ways, but also the explorations that bands like The Fixx and Tears For Fears were making at around the same time. Flirting between the spirit of both the commercial and the obscure. If your vision of music is not too narrow, this would be something that would be welcome in any open-minded music fan’s collection.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 12th, 2011