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Sneaky Like a Villain

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Album Review

Coming nearly three years after the exceptional EP Hopelessly Incapable of Standing in the Way, Houston's Spain Colored Orange have finally released their debut full-length. The EP was a bit of a tease, its seven varied keyboard and trumpet-driven songs sounding like an inexplicable but utterly delightful melding of 10cc's quirky art-pop songcraft and unapologetic '70s gloss with the meandering song structures and ramshackle arrangements of Neutral Milk Hotel or the Olivia Tremor Control. It was clever, unique, and 31 flavors of awesome. Unfortunately, however, Sneaky Like a Villain was produced by Bill Racine, a protégée of Dave Fridmann, whose production style bears perhaps too much of his mentor's influence: though Gilbert Alfaro's boyish vocals and keyboards, and Eric Jackson's piercing trumpet solos are shown to their full effect on songs like the glorious "Who Am I" and the wistful "I Remember It Was Christmas Time," too much of the rest of the album, such as "Music Box" and "Hide" bury the piano, organ, trumpet and other key elements of the band's sound in the usual Fridmann-esque blur of effects, processing, and tape hiss. It's just disappointing to hear a band whose early work was so vibrantly different than everything else that was going on at the time turn into just another set of Mercury Rev/Grandaddy clones.


Formed: 2000 in Houston, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

A musical cross between the southwestern melodrama of Calexico and the florid homegrown psychedelia of the Olivia Tremor Control and their many offshoots, Houston sextet Spain Colored Orange mix elaborate, carnivalesque arrangements with smart pop songwriting. The group began in 2000 as the solo acoustic project of singer, songwriter, guitarist, and keyboardist Gilbert Alfaro. According to a 2005 interview in The Houston Chronicle, Alfaro took the name from an elementary-school map-coloring project,...
Full bio
Sneaky Like a Villain, Spain Colored Orange
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  • £7.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock
  • Released: 21 March 2009

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