However you feel about 2016 socially and politically (it’s probably not positive), it’s fairly hard to deny that it was an incredible year for music. However, one genre proves the exception to that, and that genre was rock n’ roll. Outside of a few choice acts like Car Seat Headrest and White Lung, one struggles to find stellar rock albums from 2016, and even if you can, many of these albums have branched heavily into stadium pop and R&B stylings that are miles away from traditional rock. With Only the Lonely, Colony House is seemingly attempting to address this imbalance, but do they have the clout to make a dent in the crowded music landscape of 2017?
Only the Lonely is largely made up of a mix of southern-styled blues and stadium rock, with lots of catchy choruses in tow. Their most apparent contemporaries are Kings of Leon, but Colony House leave a degree of crunch and distortion in their music that gives it more authenticity than that band. However, their ambitions are largely the same. Tracks like Cannot Do This Alone and You Know It are designed squarely for the radio, and are largely successful for it. You Know It rides on a propulsive beat and surf guitars, which feel light-hearted and joyous without descending into pastiche. The lyrics are simplistic, with Caleb Chapman telling his lover he’ll soon return from tour, but it’s the sense of adventure in the instrumentation that makes the song work.
Not every track is as effective though. Some songs, especially the closer This Beautiful Life wade far too deep into sentimentality and cheese. Said closing track is literally an acoustic rumination on the meaning of life, and it’s as naval-gazing and treacly earnest as it sounds. There’s two lines of nice imagery – “I go to the water to find innocence / breathe deep the air to fill my lungs” – but the rest of the song is pretty dire, with lines like “maybe I’m a part of something bigger than me” forming the template for the rest of the track.
Ultimately, Only the Lonely is a decent album, with a consistent sound and well produced tracks, but outside of a few catchy songs, nothing really sticks in the brain. The lyrics rarely stand out, and sometimes descend into unmanageable cheese. The guitars are crunchy and satisfying, but don’t always feel like they’re being deployed in service of worthwhile songs. Colony House are a rock band with potential, but they just may not be the ones to save rock n’ roll.