Presents for Sally : Colours and Changes review and interview with Matt Etherton
“Colours and Changes” is the 2nd album of UK trio Presents for Sally, released on 9/11 (of all dates) this year. The band consider this to be the first “proper” album they ever completed, and they are probably right: it is an impressive and extensive collection of tunes. It’s quite something to get your head around: 10 tunes that are each well worth listening to: from start to finish.
However, it is essential that you sit the ride out with Presents for Sally, otherwise you miss the point! Take the album as a “holistic” experience or leave it alone, because Presents for Sally keeps having surprises in store. “Colours and Changes” has 10 musical, multilayered surprises: a collection of colourfully wrapped “presents” on an Xmas eve: you never know what’s in them, and the moment you start unwrapping another present is revealed, and another, like a “mise en abyme” effect. A strong example of that is the last song “Softly Spoken/ Outside Honey” (rightfully having a double-title), which when you think you’ve heard it all, changes direction completely and turns into a trippy, Beatle-esque chant, complete with handclaps. The same goes for “The Sun Dehydrates“, where we are taken along on a ride starting at Slowdive, revving up to MBV, quickening into Smashing Pumpkins and terminating at Spiritualized.
Right at the onset of the album the band lives up to their “shoegaze” reputation: shoegaze revival? you kids want shoegaze? You can have it! “We fought Lucifer (and won)” starts with an avalanche of feedback to rival any of shoegaze greatest (I think Lucifer just ran away! ).The song builds up as gradually all the building blocks of the song are cemented into a cathedral of sound, with layers of female / male vocals echoing through the spires.
The single “Wishawaytoday” emerges out of the vanquished darkness of the preceding track and transforms into what is probably the most poppy tune on the album: Matt’s subdued, languid vocals juxtapose catchy, powerful baggy beats ( Airhead’s “Right Now” sprung to mind) and it is hard not to love it! “Wishawaytoday” is a bit of an earworm: on second hearing you’ll find yourself singing along to it. It channels along the spine and locks itself in the brain, which is also the case , I think, with the chorus of “Sleeptight“: an uptempo indie lullaby with a brooding verse that oozes Nirvana.
“Colours and Changes” is obviously a galimaufry (love that “Bristolian” word) of indie music from the end 80’s until the mid 90’s all stirred into one big cauldron to ultimately and magically turn into a distinct; own; trademark sound. The songs that I think have that distinct “own” sound and don’t make you go “sounds like..” are the highlights of the album. The gorgeous “Anything, Anymore” has to be a favourite of mine and is an ultimate showcase of their compositional qualities. Anna’s clear voice and Matt’s impassive vocals alternate until they meet and merge and everything culminates into swirls of emotion that almost sound like the fireworks of a heated argument between lovers. Other tracks that have that distinct Presents for Sally quality is the hypnotic title track “Colours and Changes” and “Everything I Said” which both show their more experimental side as well.
“Sing” and the waltzy “Floor Faller” are their quieter moments of sober reflection and fragile beauty that add to the all-encompassing character of “Colours and Changes” : life-like in all its hues and shades. It embodies all the four elements: the etherealness of air, the energy of fire, the sobriety of earth and the unpredictability of water.
I have no idea why people would merely see it as a revival album or a tribute to the alternative sounds of the 90’s. “Colours and Changes” contains strong compositions and conveys genuine feeling which makes it a deep, multi-dimensional album with a perfect balance between the heart and mind.
How and when did Sally come about?
Sally was born in about 2008 I think and consisted of mainly ideas recorded at home. Then kind of without realising the ideas turned into songs and friends were going ‘This is pretty good’! So slowly but surely a few more songs started to come together. I spoke to a couple of labels about putting a single out and then the more I looked into I thought it was something I could do. I figured the songs were recorded at home in a basic way so why not go down the road of doing it completely DIY so that’s what I did and it worked and i’d encourage anyone in he same position to always do the same.
Why this name for a band?
That’s a good question and by now we should have really made something interesting up but it was literally a name Anna came up with, way before we were thinking about putting records out. It just stuck really and now I cant really imagine doing anything under a different name.
Are you old ‘gazers’ or more recent ones/ nugazers?
Well, I have always loved the classic bands from back in the day and they were some of the first records i ever bought, not that I dont listen to plenty of other stuff aswell but yeah i’d consider myself one of the old guard!
As far as the others, Anna hates most things shoegaze related and Phil likes some of it. Anna loves Fu Manchu and stuff like that whilst Phil’s favorite band is Blur (for which I apologise on his behalf haha!!) I grew up being really into the early 90s indie scene, both UK and US bands..you had this wall of noise with some bands and then the Seattle ‘sub pop’ thing aswell and I loved all of it, still do!
How did you get signed with Saint Marie Records
I honestly don’t really remember how it all came about to start with or how the contact was made but I think they had a copy of “A Touch Of Joy…” that they liked and it kicked off from there. Our lastest album took a lot longer than first intended as a lot of stuff happened throughout it but they were patient to be fair.
What about playing live?
We are rehearsing at the moment and aim to tour in the near future..we haven’t worked out how we’d do it yet..there’s the usual play up and down the country type tour or we have thought about putting on a few all dayers with great bands every now and then in different places but it all depends on time and money really but I think that’s how I’d like to do it.’
For streaming of the full album click here: Presents for Sally: Colours and Changes