[sic] Magazine

Red Painted Red – Hey Dum Dum

Now this is an unusual album. Hey Dum Dum is the second album from Manchester-based Red Painted Red. Vocally it has more in common with Laurie Anderson than fellow Mancunian artists but musically there’s a dark undercurrent. It’s an album which trades on sounds rather than standard song structures. This is particularly evident during ‘Late November’ with its repetitive vocal (unusually mainly spoken – rather than sung – throughout the record). I don’t even know many bands who make records such as this.

Let’s start with the sleeve – an image of a cat which looks like he’s witnessed something which he shouldn’t have. It’s almost a metaphor for the theme of the album.

I guess that where Red Painted Red excel is in painting emotional soundscapes. However, it has to be said that those vocals are pretty darned sexy at times. The outro of ‘20 Floors’ simply repeats the word ‘20’ with an occasional ‘mmmm…’ interjected which could be the sound of a female contentedly sleeping. There’s also a hint of Toni Halliday (from Curve) in those vocals – but it’s a distant comparison.

The saxophone during ‘Two’, when aligned with the dark instrumentation, propels me into a sleazy part of a city very late at night. In fact, the city comparison is particularly apt, I can almost imagine this music seamlessly fitting in throughout ‘Lost In Translation’ – a perfect movie backdrop.

The mood never really lifts from its sleepy darkness. Through to the very end it maintains an almost sinister context which is part despair, part frustration. Even the foreign voices at the end of closing track ‘Don’t Give Up The Sun’ could be poker players’ conversations leaking through an upstairs window along with cigarette smoke.

I’ve found myself playing this album several times over during the same sitting. My initial expectations of this album – which were set during opener ‘It’s Real’ – were firmly brushed aside as I progressed through the recording. I guess that – certainly initially – I’d expected ‘It’s Real’ to set the scene and then the sound might develop into something possibly louder, experimental or deeper – or simply something ‘else’ – but when that didn’t really happen I genuinely didn’t feel disappointment, I actually ‘got’ where they’re coming from. Some listeners may not be able to lock into that – it would be easy for some people to dismiss this album as “too samey”, but that would be doing the band a disservice. As a piece of work it actually works really well. It occupies the part of my mind called ‘Self Doubt’ and the cat on the sleeve mirrors that image well.

Hey Dum Dum really could have been released at any time. It neither screams ‘2015’ any louder than it screams ‘1979’. Whilst it’s getting near-impossible to buy music these days that doesn’t end up being played on ‘Countryfile’ as Matt Baker is faded out to show images of cows munching on farmland in Suffolk (I even heard Kitchens Of Distinction on there the other week), Hey Dum Dum might just be a record which I’m not expecting to hear on there any time soon…

Official webpage