Colony House - When I Was Younger

Indie rockers with spiritual motives make a debut album packed with an amalgamation of sound.

Additional Info


ALBUM: When I Was Younger

ARTIST: Colony House



Colony House, a name that seems to take on different meanings the longer you contemplate it, is the group formerly known as CALEB. They changed their name in 2010 to unite the band closer with its roots. Their second title, Colony House, was the name of the first apartment complex some of the band members called home. They wanted to keep up the reference to their small town Franklin, Tennessee geneses. But fittingly enough, Colony House implies a cluster of sorts within a larger encompassing frame. The constantly altering sound and style within their debut full-length album When I Was Younger places it as the frame and the music within it as a shifting center that makes up the cluster.

The triad rock, pop, indie, albeit religious band was founded by brothers Caleb and Will Chapman, and shortly thereafter joined by friend Scott Mills on the guitar. They hail from a famous Christian musician and “soul-activist” Steven Curtis Chapman, who cultivated a brief history in the mainstream between devoutly spiritual album releases. This influence shines light on the organizational approach Colony House took to their album to line the end with religious content.

The album opens and it sounds light, fun and the listener expects substance that is one dimensional. “Nothing silhouettes ‘til the lights come on”, renders an image that falls on the cheekier side of artistic. It seems their contribution may simply be a familiar pop song sentiment that observes a more creative platform. Colony House surprises the listener not with each individual track, but with their breadth of sound and genre across When I Was Younger. The first few songs on the album have distinctly different sounds. It’s as if they come from entirely random directions compositionally, and are tied together through a vague familiarity of sound. “When I Was Younger”, the title track song, introduces elements of mystic ethereal noises and dramatic 80’s pop. While cushioned by a track in between, it’s a far cry from the beachy essence at the beginning of the album.

Colony House has a crafty hand when it comes to making catchy chorus lines. Simple rhymes and witty quips fly by in a majority of the tracks before the listener can fully register the entirety of what is been said. Their repetition of the line “leaving and escaping aren’t the same, on one track, for example, places a heavier emphasis on the phrase, and it begins to take on a variance of meanings. It lacks the rhyme, but doubles up on impressive quality in songwriting. When I Was Younger expresses elements in both musicality and lyrics that have reflections of Maroon 5, Portugal, The Man, Artic Monkeys, and The Black Keys moment to moment.

Thematically, their songwriting begins as straightforward and uncomplicated. The messages are of love and encouragement. Half way through, the mood changes dramatically. “Today is not my day”, begins the solemn intermediary between the first and second halves. Though backed by a cheery snapping and tapping, the message has clearly become clouded. Caleb Chapman cites where his discrepancy in sound may come from, “As the primary songwriter, I […] am inspired by men like Jonny Cash and Tom Waits. Two of my biggest influences in song crafting would be my father, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Jon Foreman from Switchfoot.” These artists listed are all exceptionally different, making for a strange amalgamation of flavors to reference.

The tail end of the album When I Was Younger becomes remarkably religious and spiritual with reference to blood stained hands, being saved, and Jesus himself. The change of topic seems to indicate an awakening to Christian ideologies later in life, or a hesitancy to express such doctrines to the listener earlier on. The choice has its pros and cons, but the listener leaves at rick for feeling slighted or mislead. Sliding heavy opinions of sensitive topics like religion onto a listener who thought they were getting simplistic indie rock album is a dangerous move.

“Leaving and escaping aren’t the same.”

1. Silhouettes
Shimmering strings pulls the listener into a track that exudes warmth and energy. It has an upbeat energy that likens Colony House to The Shins, with a more approachable appeal. They open with the lines, “Are you half empty?/ Why don’t you fill up?/ There’s no sense in holding onto something broken”, and the words fall heavy with truth on the listeners ears. The track rolls along amiably, and they liken the heart to a road that were all just “Drivin’ down” with “All the lovely memories your hearts been holdin’” making nothing but “silhouettes till the lights come on". The image of a heart with the reflection of memories cast on it as silhouettes is bittersweet and jarringly truthful.8.8
2. Second Guessing Games
The second track runs with more powerful voltage than the first; a static electronic pacing is cut through with piercing vocals in the first few seconds. The lyrics exude confidence, “Oh, she’ll be mine within a moment of time”, as Chapman’s vocals careen delicately over the faint beat. The second guessing mentioned in the track’s title emerges in the refrain after a sequence of, “if only I…” which is followed with a list of to do’s. “Could go where I want to go, get where I need to be/ Do what I need to do, say what I need to say/Fight for the things I love, let go of the things I don’t/ and stop playing second guessing games". The deliberate, unerring honestly in their songwriting gears up to be a major signifier for the group.8.0
3. When I was Younger
The pace drops considerably as Colony House prepares for a quiet melody. The entirety of the track, all 52 seconds, is shaky recording of a guitar holding out one note at a time. Echoes of voices and sparks of chimes layer over the strings, until the echoes become too overwhelming and the guitar is faint and fleeting. A cacophony of twinkling noises buries the track, leading seamlessly into the next.7.0
4. Caught Me By Surprise
An 80s pop rock vibe takes front and center, and Chapman’s voice becomes throaty and brooding. “When I was younger everything seemed simple” he laments, and begins detailing his realization that he had to grow up over, served over a melancholic punk rock context. The refrain returns the sounds of shifting sand that makes Colony House sound so summery, and the vocals rise into a falsetto that resounds as indie alternative. The melody becomes a mixture of an 80’s rock ballad, an electronic wobble, and the shifting summer sand, creating a complex track that showcases distinct influences that have worked their way into the group. Chapman rockets through the lines, “You caught me by surprise, you caught me by surprise again", with a strike of a pitchy chord enunciating the "again”. The track dies down to a low, harmonized whisper, “Leaving and escaping aren’t the same. Would you walk for miles in the rain? Could you fight a battle with the pain now? Light begins to fade will you remain now? Leaving and escaping aren’t the same".8.8
5. Roll with the Punches
Chapman’s voice rings with clarity over a dull two-toned accompaniment that repeats in the background. He becomes hypnotic, relaying images of walking through fire while searching for answers. Again the listener is granted with more lines of poetry from Colony House: “But when it makes no sense inside our heads, our hearts start playing games". The simplistic beat is supported by an occasional keyboard, which leaves the emphasis of the track on the vocals and lyrics. The song spells out straightforward lessons on love and loss. “So say what you need to, bear what you must, love’s meant to mend these fragments of trust. So with steady heads and steady hearts we can face what fell apart". The effortless rhyming makes the wise quips come across as overtly simplistic.8.5
6. Keep on Keeping on
Taking a breath from the weighty truths in “Roll with the Punches”, this track causes visions of sunshine and fortune. Lift your eyes, it’s not a coincidence you’re alive, the listener is reminded, and the bleak honesty of heartbreak fades away as the unerring optimism of “Keep on Keeping on” resonates through the speaker. In an ultimate Carpe Diem outburst, the track leans in a spiritual direction with the line, “When the devils arm seems strong, Brother, keep on keeping on”. A melodious chorus of “Keep your head up, Brother" leads into an electrifying guitar solo, and the tune becomes less indie and more rock n’ roll.8.0
7. Waiting for My Time to Come
We’re tossed into an opposing emotional state as the track opens announcing that today is not his day. The dull counterpart to the lyrics heard in “Roll with the Punches” returns, keeping the beat steadily. After the solemn introduction, the beat kicks up and the key changes to a lighter note. As if changing from hanging head to skipping feet, the tone of the lyrics is complacent and indifferent, as he sings, “I’m just waiting on the seasons to change, waiting for the curtain to fall, I can lose my cool like a restless fool, but I’m waiting for my time to come…”. Resigned to conclusion, the track’s upbeat energy takes on an eerie element of self-deprecation.7.8
8. 2:20
A solo guitar with it’s own volition kick starts the track “2:20” with powerful rock personality. The track title is somewhat puzzling given the song only lasts through 2:10. Though short lived, “2:20” packs a rocking punch, and lines the Colony House sound up with the likes of the Black Keys. “How am I supposed to keep on standing tall, when all the things ’round me, they fall apart?” The blasé attitude that emerges in “Waiting for My Time to Come,” finds an outlet here, becoming increasingly rough around the edges.8.4
9. Learning How to Love
A peacefulness returns to the album as the group takes account of their ability to love. A love song solely about the self is a refreshing angle, and they execute this perspective through their poignant yet simple songwriting. “I think that I am the reason why I’ve been waiting for things to change in my heart again". As the drum line picks up speed, spiritual connotations arise again, first with an ominous “you” asking “Take my hand, just trust me". The repetition of “I’m still learning how to love", becomes tiresome and monotonous, lacking that certain finesse Colony House has provided.6.3
10. Won’t Give Up
Colony House attempts a new sound here with a somber acoustic guitar and soft falsetto vocals. “Oh how I wish I could escape” follows the darker moods of the album’s second half, lacking the honest optimism of the first. Swelling strings weave into the middle of the track, and it becomes dramatic and sad. “But I see Jesus in the front he’s reach back for the lonely", makes for the anticipated religious reference insinuated in “Keep on Keeping on” and “Learning How to Love.” The four-minute track is theatrical and intense, but it feels like Colony House wanted to slide it onto their album on the sly, tucking it behind upbeat pop songs.7.2
11. Moving Forward
A quivering acoustic guitar gears the track towards the spiritual trend that is three songs strong now. Compared to the melancholy of the previous track, “Moving Forward” feels enlightening, a more grateful approach. “I could lose it for a moment, so I dare not close my eyes”, is delivered to the listener in a low, vibrato voice that melds with the simple picks the at guitar strings, and reinforces the heartfelt nature of their message. Chapman croons, “My eyes are open, my heart is beating, my lungs are full, and my body’s breathing", and it is anthemic and joyful.7.6
12. Glorious
Cascading drums bounce sorrowful lyrics through this track that celebrates sunrise. “I will be glorious” rings out as Chapman anticipates moving to the great beyond., whatever that may be, a sunrise in this case. It comes across as more real and balanced than “Moving Forward” or “Won’t Give up.” As the track comes to a close, layered vocals vaporize and are exchanged for a hazy strumming guitar.7.8
13. I Had to Grow Up
This track melds seamlessly from the previous, and lasting only a bit longer than I minute, it shimmers and echoes piano keys, wind chimes, reverberating single notes, and a warped, winding voice. It resonates as a quality addition to the album and transports the listener from a more strictly serious subject matter, to no subject matter at all.8.2
14. Lose Control
Colony House has proved their strengths in meshing acoustics with quick, light-footed beats, and creating strong, sentimental lyrics that air on the side of minimalism. Here, they showcase those talents, opening with a tripped-up guitar pace, and Chapman’s voice smooth as silk following, winding easily into falsetto with the lyrics, “I think it’s when I lose control” He talks of surrender with the fantastical imagery of riding on the wind “like a feather toward home". They push the notion that you can’t keep trying to live a steady life, leaving it up to the listener to apply this thought to their own lives. The track concludes with enchanting chimes that round out the almost five minute closing song.7.9
Written by Shelby Tatomir
Reading and writing are my roots, making music, design, and photography sprouting branches of special interests that I am always striving to cultivate.

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