I can sing a rainbow too.
'Nice' is an adjective that should be immediately banned from universal use and swiftly removed from all dictionaries - along with 'normal', 'quasi' and 'mise-en-scene'. Okay, I know that last one is French but it's spectacularly overused by Media Studies muppets who believe that to regularly pepper banal conversations with ostentatious phrases that mean nowt makes them appear to be geniuses.
However (and much to my chagrin), while I was banging out this review, I could not unearth an alternative that encapsulated 'The Rainbow EP' as well as the aforementioned four-lettered abomination. 'Pleasant', 'fine' or 'lovely' I hear you cry? What's wrong with them? And surely I should have just splurged some moolah on a Thesaurus rather than bore you with such a prosaic and ultimately inconsequential introduction. Well, maybe so. But 'nice' is the only word that fits. It conveys a sentiment of innocuousness, congeniality and safeness that is comparable with no other word I can presently discern. 'The Rainbow EP' is a nice record. I am certain (through no other reasoning than associative thought) that Scottish duo Barry Christie and Marco Rea are nice too, since they are the guys who made the record after all. I imagine them drinking tea, dunking digestives and watching 'Murder She Wrote' while they produced this disc. I like to think that they discounted the stereotypical rock 'n' roll behaviour of sniffing coke off a whore's cleavage and then ambling into the studio to bang out a guitar solo and instead wondered if they should take their used carrier bags to the recycling bin that afternoon or leave it until they had some jam jars to dispose of too.
Listen to the opening track 'I Can See A Rainbow' and you'll see what I'm getting at...I hope. Blessed with a soft Yazoo-inflected keyboard arpeggio and mellifluously sweet, almost ethereal vocals that readily conjure images of both Elliott Smith and 'Sgt. Pepper'-era Beatles, the track is a shimmering oasis in the present (and arid) art-school-pop-punk landscape. And when the piano punctuates the delicate sonic scene and imbibes it with the necessary chutzpah to preclude its descent into the quagmire of memory, you know you're on to a winner.
The Scissor Sisters have a lot to answer for. I mean, making Elton John and Abba fashionable again? Does the world really need to bear that cross once more? I didn't think so. However, Rainbow Family have clearly embraced that very ethos and 'This Is Not A Circular' is an evident nod to the aforementioned 70s pop stalwarts - and maybe The Carpenters too. It's a meandering, heavy-drummed hymn - perfect for a sunny afternoon's reading in the garden. The lyrics 'People/Living in the rat race/Appreciating Sunday/Now and again' are a fabulous précis of the modern day penchant for living for the weekend and it's just the tune you want to hear before you start tormenting yourself about how ghastly work on Monday morning is sure to be.
The 70s soft-pop theme is recapitulated on 'Mr Picture Perfect' (which features some terrific vocals and a foot-twitching bassline) and 'Seagus' - though the latter also amalgamates the more soporific elements of Pink Floyd and E.L.O to produce a slower, rhythmical and altogether contemplative piece. The closing instrumental 'When California Began' is a touch more dynamically approached; grandstanding electro-chords are vigorously employed, evoking shades of Vangelis, but the track is no less magisterial in its ability to soothe even the most troubled of brows than its predecessors.
With summer winking at us from just around the meteorological corner, The Rainbow Family is perfectly poised to become THE chill-out band of the lazy, hazy sunshine season. However, 'The Rainbow EP' might not become the essential soundtrack to that epoch. The debut album is apparently almost upon us (finishing touches I believe) and if Rainbow Family can sustain the comforting, quietly affecting and thoroughly heartening ambience of this short-player, you can be sure that it's going to be a hit. And, as I'm sure you will agree, that will be...well...nice. An essential purchase.