Tall Heights experiment on third LP ‘Pretty Colors For Your Actions’

by Juliette Paige

Tall Heights experiment on third LP ‘Pretty Colors For Your Actions’

Tall Heights
Pretty Colors For Your Actions

Sony Music · October 5, 2018

Tall Heights experiment on third LP ‘Pretty Colors For Your Actions’

Tall Heights’ third LP, Pretty Colors For Your Actions, follows a “natural sonic evolution” of music as they explore experimental avenues outside of their classic acoustic folk sound.

Tall Heights, made up of Paul Wright and Tim Harrington, started their music career busking in Boston spots like Faneuil Hall. They’ve just finished a US tour with CAKE and Ben Folds, and now they’re making Boston proud with their third LP, Pretty Colors For Your Actions. Famous for their singles ‘Spirit Cold’ and ‘Horse to Water,’ Tall Heights has stayed consistent with their acoustic, folk sound that revolves around vocals, guitar and cello. That consistency ends with this year’s release.

When I interviewed Paul Wright, he commented on how Tall Heights is following a “natural sonic evolution” of music. By moving into electronic percussions and synths, Pretty Colors For Your Actions presents a much-needed, refreshing twist to Wright and Harrington’s beautiful harmonies and raw sound. The album has two distinct vibes, making it Tall Heights’ most experimental record to date.

The first vibe is an ethereal Bon Iver-esque sound, but with less of an emotional commitment. While Bon Iver’s music is something that can consume your entire mindspace, Tall Heights’ songs like ‘Gold,’ ‘Not Like It Was,’ and ‘Roanoke’ are delicate but also easy to listen to. These are the tracks where the two members shine with impressive harmonies and falsettos. My favorite track on the album is ‘Over Now,’ which opens with an entrancing drone and is supported with orchestral instrumentation and chilling harmonies over the lyrics “I’m waking up to empty space ‘cause / I turned my pockets out / It’s all too much and face-to-face so / Lower the coffin down.”

The second sound comes straight out of a Broadway musical. Many songs on the album seem to be telling stories or setting up a visual scene for the listener. ‘House on Fire’ opens with a bright, cheery saxophone and leads into danceable tune about working a tiring job to be able to do what you want outside of work. It feels like the song could fall easily into a zero-to-hero musical about a guy who decides to take a leap of faith and leave his tedious job to follow his dreams. Then there’s a track like ‘Red Bird’ that pays tribute to their home in Massachusetts and tells the homesick story of going to unfamiliar places – a perfect track after our protagonist quits his job and moves to a new city. While these musical-esque tracks may come off unexpected and sometimes borderline cringe-worthy, the songs eventually earn their place on the record.

Having two extremely different moods to the album is experimental and helps evolve Tall Heights’ sound. However, the two sounds ultimately have trouble intermingling throughout the record. The abrupt changes between fast-paced, energetic songs to slower, darker songs make the record ambiguous in tone even though it is filled with very strong and well produced singles. Pretty Colors For Your Actions has a song for every mood, and it showcases the beautiful growth of the band as they discover their potential.

Listen to Pretty Colors for Your Actions: