The Colour of Spring
The Colour of Spring is one of the biggest quality leaps in the history of popular music. The Colour of Spring takes all the best elements of mid-1980s pop – huge hooks and clean production (which suits this band perfectly) – and adds a few unique elements of its own, emphasising subtlety and nuance, and relying on organic instruments. Synthesisers are all but supplanted by piano, organ, mellotron, and orchestral instruments to supply the colour on this vivid and expressive record. Producer Tim Friese-Green is prominent, co-writing every track with Mark Hollis, producing and playing keyboards on most songs.
These songs successfully bridge the gap between mainstream pop and artiness, using creative arrangements; the children’s choir on ‘Happiness is Easy’, the infectious piano bass-line of ‘Life’s What You Make It’, and songs dropping into gently psychedelic solo sections. They sound like potentially huge hits if the group played by the pop rules more closely, but Hollis and Friese-Green constantly challenge themselves with lateral instrumentation and structures. A pair of songs break away from the pop idiom altogether, pointing the next direction the band would take; the gentle ‘Chameleon Day’ is almost nothing but atmosphere, while the jazzy piano led ‘April 5th’ thrives on the yearning in Hollis’ voice. These two pieces help to give the album balance, and embellish it with a more reflective and beautiful tone overall. The album’s six other songs are also uniformly strong; the white soul of ‘Give It Up’ rides a fantastic groove from Webb and Harris, ‘Living In Another World’ and ‘Time It’s Time’ are catchy and climactic, while the striking ‘Life’s What You Make It’ is one of the best singles of its decade.
With The Colour of Spring, Talk Talk went from a passable synth-pop band to making beautiful and ambitious pop music.