Album: The Reds, Pinks & Purples – Uncommon Weather review

by Philip Moss

Glenn Donaldson’s third record as The Reds, Pinks and Purples sees him diving into his record collection on this DIY masterpiece

Hang out in any dive bar, or pub that hosts live music, and, within five minutes, someone will claim to have ‘nearly made it’ in the music industry. Heck! Half of Secret Meeting’s writing team are veterans of the toilet circuit. But where most fall away from continuing to perform, others carry on regardless – and some even go on to write their best ever material. Case in point: Glenn Donaldson of The Reds, Pinks and Purples.

Donaldson’s been a mainstay of the San Francisco/Bay Area scene since the early 00s – including his time in The Art Museums the back end of the decade. The influences on Uncommon Weather are most overtly pulled from great music of the past – namely the 1980s though, as noted by Donaldson when we chatted to him (see here) recently. But while the twee influence of Stephin Merritt (A Kick in the Face (That’s Life)), and the vocal stylings of a scaled back Morrissey are perhaps most immediate, it’s Springsteen’s DIY masterpiece, Tunnel of Love, that comes to mind on the glorious title track. It shimmers with the same ray of light that could only land through a kitchen recording studio window, as Donaldson croons – ‘Another dull day dream, another sad day dream – how else can you pass the time?’ – against a spectrum of jangle-pop guitars.

 The American is also a master of melody. Forget the DIY aesthetic (bar one track of guitar and bass on I’m Sorry About Your Life, Donaldson recorded every note) that remains throughout – these songs have been so carefully crafted in the writing phase that it means there is more than enough differentiation. It’s obvious why the fuzzy pop of The Record Player and the Damage Done has done so well on BBC 6 Music – despite no lift in structural trajectory, his ear for a chorus means the refrained line cuts through like Neil Young’s needle that Donaldson playfully creates the titular pun from!

To paraphrase the sentiments of Keith Richards – he with the greatest record collection writes the best music – and on the basis of Uncommon Weather, Donaldson sure has a great record collection. While pulling from the past, this third collection of songs under his latest moniker is more than relevant enough to stand alongside his contemporaries.

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