1984’s It’s My Life and its title track helped Talk Talk gain international success as the band was starting to gain some control musically. Thanks in part to the contributions of unofficial member and producer Tim Friese-Greene, Talk Talk was able to move away from the world of synth-pop and new wave as singer Mark Hollis yearned for a more organic musical style for the band. With bassist Paul Webb and drummer Lee Smith, the band returned to the studio in 1985 with a group of session musicians for their third album The Colour of Spring.
Produced by Tim Friese-Greene and songs written by Friese-Greene and Mark Hollis, The Colour of Spring is an album where Talk Talk goes full-on into the world of art rock as the record strips down the synthesizers of its previous albums for a more organic yet massive sound. Featuring contributions from guitarist Robbie McIntosh of the Pretenders and Steve Winwood, the album shows a more evocative side to the band in terms of performance and musical arrangements. Lyrically, Mark Hollis delves into ideas of life from a more cerebral template as it plays to the album’s more improvisational yet adventurous presentation. The result is a sprawling yet soaring album from Talk Talk.
The album opener Happiness is Easy starts off with smooth, pulsating beats from Lee Harris, Paul Webb’s jazz-wobbly bass, soft piano riffs, a flowing synthesizer, and acoustic guitar melodies. Mark Hollis sings quietly to lyrics filled with religious themes that includes a chorus that is partially sung by a children’s choir which also features a trumpet solo. I Don’t Believe In You is a mid-tempo track with bopping rhythms, smooth guitar swanks and wails, melodic keyboard swirls, and acoustic guitar washes. Featuring expressive lyrics of loss and disappointment, Hollis sings in an anguished tone that features a wide range of emotions. The first single Life’s What You Make It features a pummeling back beat, crashing piano melodies, a hypnotic organ accompaniment, and a wailing guitar solo. Hollis’ vocals play up to the song’s lyrics filled with ideas of life as it’s presented in a powerful yet direct approach.
The minimalist-inspired April 5th features a somber piano piece, a smooth trumpet, and a soft, shaky percussion as Hollis sings in a nasally-pitch vocal. With reflective lyrics that features abstract imagery, the song is one of the album’s key tracks as it plays as a simple yet very esoteric song. Living in Another World is an upbeat track with pulsating rhythms, striking piano chords, and brimming acoustic guitars as Hollis sings harrowing lyrics of despair. The song intensifies in the chorus with a wailing organ, Robbie McIntosh’s soaring guitar, and a harmonica solo as Hollis sings in a powerful vocal that recalls the world falling apart.
Give It Up has a throbbing yet smooth mid-tempo rhythm with a swooning keyboard and organ plus soft, walloping percussions and a melodic piano. The song’s lyrics reflects elements of disappointment and questionable lyrics of life that is exuded by Hollis’ hypnotic vocals. Chameleon Day is another minimalist-inspired track with esoteric lyrics describing nighttime as Hollis’ nasally yet powerful vocals is accompanied by a smooth trumpet, a soft piano, and a chilling organ. The album closer Time It’s Time is an eight-minute cut that features throbbing bass lines, soft yet walloping percussions, a soothing synthesizer, driving guitars that later changes into a more direct, mid-tempo track with wailing keyboards and powerful beats. Hollis’ soft yet hypnotic vocals take charge to the song’s changing rhythms while singing somber lyrics filled with reflective yet religious themes chronicling a world in despair.
Released in March of 1986, the album drew rave reviews as well as the band’s best international sales despite a disappointing reaction in the U.S. The band went on tour for the record which helped them become international favorites as a performance at the 1986 Montreux Jazz Festival was later released on DVD in 2008. The international commercial reception also gave the band unlimited control as they would spend the next two years reinventing themselves.
The Colour of Spring is a superb yet exhilarating album from Talk Talk. Featuring a layered yet textured production from Tim Friese-Greene, it’s the band’s most accessible album of their entire catalog. Particularly as it bridges the gap between their earlier, new wave inspired albums and the post-rock albums they would do in the coming years. While those later albums would be superior in comparison to their catalog, The Colour of Spring is a more worthy introduction of what Talk Talk was able to do when balancing minimalist music and the new wave style that they had done earlier. In the end, The Colour of Spring is a rich yet adventurous album from Talk Talk.
© thevoid99 2011