Striking album cover art aside, Colorstore's debut full-length revels in tortured artist glory with 10 moody tracks that swell and recede like the ocean reflecting a violet and tangerine sunset. The fact that it's so gorgeous should only make fans more antsy to actually get their paws on it -- the quartet is shopping it to labels, so until it's officially released, the public only gets a taste with this weekend's listening party and a couple songs on MySpace. At times, Colorstore takes listeners so deep into dreamland -- or into the dark reaches of loneliness -- that it feels like things might unravel into space or creep to a standstill. But every moment is a blur of constantly shifting layers -- of shimmering guitars giving way to warm piano or hovering keyboard, of slow atmospherics morphing into something more urgent, or of aching drama softly crashing into sad harmonies. It's not Pixies' blunt brand of loud/quiet, but a more ambient kind of pop drama, guided by Mark Erickson's vulnerable vocals. (He's got some Thom Yorke angst, some broken Elvis Costello breathiness.) "Sister Mary Loves Me" is an introspective jam with chiming keys and swooning, high-pitched guitars that ease into a mellow haze, while the satisfyingly extended "Super-Fantastic" starts with spare, starry-night keys, then heads into guitar distortion. And in "Strung Up #1 and Testify" -- where muted keyboard arpeggios and layers of acid-trip guitar bolster the impassioned chorus, "And we all go insane now" -- descent into madness never sounded so seductive. Tortured, yes, but it hurts so good.
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