The Underground: Crooked Colours

By Owen Hynes

Crooked Colours of Perth, Australia, a city largely known for being isolated and completely surrounded by Australian nature with the Indian Ocean on one side and the Australian outback on the other, have created a lot of buzz in the alternative, electronic and indie dance music scenes over the years following the release of their two albums, Vera in 2017 and Langata in 2019.   

The trio, consisting of Philip Slabber, Leon De Baughn and Liam Merrett-Park, originally started as house party DJs; however, they quickly combined their musical talents and realized that playing together as a band would provide them with far more exposure and the potential for greater success. 

After initially releasing a few well-received singles on Sweat It Out, an indie dance label with a roster that includes fellow Australian artists RÜFÜS DU SOL and What So Not, the three members of Crooked Colours then decided to take a break from putting out music and instead, went out to travel and explore some of the world while also devoting time to writing their debut album.  

After about an 18-month break, it seemed as if Crooked Colours had traveled around enough of the world for the time being and were finally ready to show listeners what they had been working on.

In February 2017, the trio released “Flow,” the lead single from their debut album Vera.  The single, which remains the group’s most-played song to date, was met with high acclaim for its minimalist arrangements, varying tempos, catchy drum beat, colorful sound and rather uplifting message of finding strength in yourself.

The album infiltrated the indie-pop genre by successfully pairing the typical sounds and style of indie-pop at the time with unique and refreshing elements of electronic and dance music, creating some sort of unprecedented musical concoction.  These pairings and intricate combinations between genres have become a staple in Crooked Colours’ discography.  

The trio’s rare ability to seamlessly fuse multiple genres, such as indie pop, alternative and a range of dance music, into not only just one song but a cohesive project like Vera, was admired by many critics and brought in a wide variety of new listeners.  

After touring their debut album across Australia, North America, Europe and more during a portion of 2017 and a large part of 2018, Crooked Colours released their heavily-awaited sophomore album titled Langata in May 2019. 

Langata comes from the name of a district in Nairobi, Kenya and the members of Crooked Colours credit in being a major contributor to the overall creative process of the album. 

At a point in their artistic careers where a lot of other groups tend to fall short of expectations when releasing a sophomore album, Crooked Colours made it clear that they had evolved their sound even further and by doing so, attracted more acclaim from indie dance and electronic music critics and fans following the release of Langata.

With tracks like “Hold On,” “Just Breathe,” “Do It Like You” and “Never Dance Alone” featuring New Zealand singer-songwriter Ladyhawke, Crooked Colours freely experiments with a broad range of tempos, colors and tones on Langata, giving listeners a deeper understanding of the trio’s sound and the album’s boundary-stretching impact. 

Crooked Colours has already attracted the likes of major U.S. music festivals, such as Bonnaroo, Firefly Music Festival, Electric Forest and just recently played at Okeechobee Music Festival.  While working on new music, the trio’s next plans are to play a number of shows across Australia later in 2020. 

Stream Crooked Colours’ sophomore album Langata on Spotify here and check out the rest of their music here.    

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Crooked Colours’s Facebook page. 

Owen Hynes is a junior journalism major and can be reached at ohynes@terpmail.umd.edu.

        

 

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