I absolutely love it when bands become unapologetic with their music whenever they experiment with or shift towards a different style from the accustomed (if done well, of course!). I also have noticed that the tiring gatekeeping culture coming from impassioned fanbases is slowly dissipating from music communities. This could be due to a genuine change of heart, or because bands and fans alike are just not giving a fuck anymore. Regardless, this is a positive note for the overall music landscape, as these attempts at risk-taking may guide stagnating genres towards much-needed fruition.
Coletta proves to be one of these risk-takers on their debut full-length Idealism. This Atlanta-based group released an EP back in 2018 that brought out the energy that characterized the post-hardcore genre with touches of psychedelic pop. On Idealism, however, these incorporated styles are now at the epicenter of the music rather than being maintained as mere embellishments. This surge of pop-tinged post-hardcore has been present for a few years now, thanks to bands like Dance Gavin Dance, and contemporaries such as Amarionette and Andrés, who have embraced these stylistic changes to the fullest.
In contrast to the bands mentioned above, Idealism is instantly gentle in its approach. Think of the vulnerability displayed in ’90s R&B meshed with the colorful aesthetics of Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane, and you’ve got yourself the record’s first two full-length tracks, “Black Rabbit” and “Agoraphobia”. Both tracks are rich in reverb, with the vocals soaring through punchy beats and trippy atmospherics coming from the guitars, giving out vibes that are impossible to not sway your head to. The R&B influences are even more present on the only ballad of the record, “I Know You So Well”. With lyrics that will certainly melt many hearts, the track ultimately emulates the soulful and embracing cadences of artists like Joe and Montell Jordan (surprised that I still remember about these guys. Thanks, Now That’s What I Call Music 4!), with the thick bass and ethereal keys maintaining a flow smooth like velvet while simultaneously keeping you up at your feet.
Now, this does not mean that Coletta brushed away their post-hardcore roots completely for this record. The subtle chugging on the chorus of a track like “Black Rabbit” could be easily transcribed to a post-hardcore song, while the drums on the silky “Wanderlust” carry out double bass patterns recognizable from the genre. It is the essence and not the playing itself that is present here, which personally makes it much more interesting than simply putting two genres together. These aforementioned qualities are further explored throughout the record, creating a musical climate that is truly unique and pretty entertaining.
The lyrics are what would you expect upon listening to the record: Slick, persuasive, and all-around risqué… or at least on the surface. Idealism offers a comprehensive look at the mind of a person actively seeking some sort of sweet escape, be it through sexual pleasures, freedom of expression, or simply avoiding lingering dark thoughts. It is this constant battle between incessant anxiety and the hunger for what’s out there that makes the record very much compelling. What I find particularly interesting is their use of music as a motif to connect the threads of all these reflections and emotions scattered throughout.
On both “Memento Mori” and the suave “Juicy” there are mentions of putting out songs and playing at shows respectively, as a means to become resilient from past mistakes and heartbreaks. The same goes with the more introspective “Fever Dream”, where there is a calling to awaken spirits through music. The band has done a wonderful job integrating the act of songwriting and performing as rituals to make odes to love, to break away from hurtful experiences, and to overcome self-imposed barriers provoked by said experiences.
Idealism is a record brimming with nostalgic escapades, challenged by a ruminative attitude giving way to the search for ultimate release. The curious amalgamation of R&B, psychedelic pop, and post-hardcore further reflects this apparent conflict, sending you to ride a fun but rough rollercoaster of emotions that makes you ponder the best and worst of times. No doubt this is a welcoming change of pace for Coletta, and I am excited to see what will be the next evolutionary step for them.