i see me as i was, you as you were
before the color began to bleed out of us
What a track to kick off the new Ha Ha Tonka record.
I mean, what a track.
“Colorful Kids” sounds both like and unlike Missouri’s Ha Ha Tonka; it’s rife with Brett Anderson’s machine-gun mandolin lines, and Brian Roberts’ plaintive voice in solo choruses and bridges, and the well-used and happily familiar Ha Ha Tonka trope of repeated lines and literary references, pulled together into a heart-rending song about loss and leaving. But it’s also full of electro-synth pop and a real ’70s garage punk bass line, and chorused vocals without words. It’s a step forward, or a step sideways, which is all I ever ask from bands I love, and I love Ha Ha Tonka a whole lot (their last two records topped my Best Of lists the years they came out): take the songs I love, and make new ones that sound the same and sound different.
The title ‘Colorful Kids’ gives you the impression that Ha Ha Tonka might be moving in a happier direction, but even with the upbeat mandolin melody, this song is moodier, and gloomier, and more grown-up sad, than anything they’ve done before: it’s a rock and roll ’70s synth punk anthem to how we used to be. Listen and download below, and look for Lessons out on Bloodshot Records 9/3.
(The only thing that makes me sad about the new Ha Ha Tonka record is the one word title, which means no glorious successor to Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South, aka my favorite album title ever.)