Self-recorded and mostly self-performed, The Reds, Pinks & Purples new album ‘Uncommon Weather’ finds Glenn Donaldson looking over his life in the ever-changing San Francisco landscape, the losses he has experienced, mental health issues and wider social and cultural issues.
‘Don’t Ever Pray in the Church On My Street’ opens the record in fuzzy yet melodic style as Glenn considers the concept of happiness before an about-turn warns that ‘Everything counts when the panic hits you, the fear grips you’. ‘I Hope I Never Fall in Love’ follows and this slice of dream pop – falling somewhere between Teenage Fanclub and The Shins’ – has Glenn observing that ‘Everyone goes wild sometimes’. Sadness takes over as he remembers waking up ‘sober and alone’ and wishes the subject well now they’re out of his life: ‘I hope you’re happier a thousand miles away’. The title track reminded us of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart with its melancholic melodies and visceral lyrics about having sad daydreams and the sky above: ‘Pink, yellow and blue, uncommon weather, let’s go to the beach’.
The brilliantly titled ‘A Kick in the Face That’s Life’ continues in this self-depreciating and reflective tone (‘When the sun goes down, could you make it shine?’) amidst a sea of pedal-based effects before ‘I’m Sorry About Your Life’ continues to push the record’s main theme of being there for people who are having troubles: ‘It seems like you’ve got it bad. Can you tell me how you wake up every day and make it to work on time?’ There’s a dip into surf rock on ‘The Record Player and the Damage Done’, but this soon makes way for classic blue collar sounds in the vein of Springsteen or Brian Fallon: ‘Sing a song about something’. ‘Pictures of the World’ has an emotional edge as Glenn talks about ‘Tears of a broken heart’ and how ‘She couldn’t say what she needed to say’ before it finishes with a guitar solo flourish, while ‘Life at Parties’ finds Glenn embracing his inner Springsteen or Craig Finn as he talks in tender tones about how he wants to support someone who always seems to be ‘Standing on broken glass’: ‘You just need someone to throw their arms around you at the end of the night, someone to take the pain out of your life, your lovely life’.
With its repeated mantra of ‘The songs you used to write, they changed my life’, ‘The Songs You Used to Write’ is a love letter to someone who shaped his mindset, while the closing ‘Sympathetic’ is a melodic piece full of polite and caring ambitions: ‘I saw the pain in your eyes’; ‘Everyone needs a sympathetic ear they can borrow’; ‘Is it OK to hang around with you?’
With nods to classic songwriters and so many melodic hooks underlying the important messages of support and love, ‘Uncommon Weather’ is an album that will brighten your mind.