We review All Poets & Heroes’ melancholic & cathartic Colorful Lungs, Pt. 1 EP

While our bread-and-butter here at Unrecorded is usually singles and music videos, every now and then a longer listen makes the cut. One of those rare exceptions is Colorful Lungs, Pt. 1 from Syracuse-based outfit All Poets & Heroes. This six-track EP is the collaborative project of band members and long time friends Rob McCall and Corey Jordan, alongside co-producers Allen Tate (San Fermin) and Mark Bengston. It’s the duo’s second EP and first substantial collection since the release of their debut album, Occhiolism, back in 2020. This newest work once again demonstrates the experimentalist spirit at the heart of the band’s penchant for classic songwriting, so let’s get into it.

Listening to Colorful Lungs, Pt. 1 isn’t an experience to be rushed. In fact, the band eases the listener in with an intriguing introductory track ‘Filled with remorse,’, in which sparse guitar notes, audio feedback and an abstract collage of found recordings sets the scene for the rest of the EP. Once you’ve dipped your toes into this sonic water, you’ll be ready to proceed with the pensive ‘I used to be an optimist.’. This single is a refreshing taste of live songwriting in which we can imagine lead singer McCall sat down next to pianist Jordan, pouring out his trapped thoughts into rock-tinged melodies. As the track progresses, additional elements of drums and guitars are brought in to reflect the intensity of emotion captured in those few minutes.

Third in the running is title-track ‘Colorful Lungs’, another raw expression of feeling which brings together restrained verses and catchy choruses in a game of cat and mouse, of confidence and self-doubt, of yes and no. For this song, we hear from the band members…

“Lyrically, this song talks about imposter-syndrome – the idea that we aren’t worthy or good enough, but the people around us see us from an entirely different perspective. Often they see the greatness we can’t ever fully embrace because we haven’t embraced ourselves yet. “Colorful Lungs” turned out to be an unintended anthem to the beauty we seldom see within ourselves,” shares lead singer and guitarist, McCall.

The other half of All Poets & Heroes, as well as pianist and guitarist Jordan also gives his thoughts on the focus track, as “this idea kind of went a step further and I started to see and feel this same feeling for our country, which I love. However, America is in a bit of an identity crisis, but we have so much beauty and potential. With that, so many monsters are trying to steer us all wrong.We can overcome it if we can start remembering what it is to be American – that’s being resilient, tenacious, tender but strong.”

From this bright and cathartic anthem, we’re lead into the far more solemn ’21’, a song which hangs on the unconvincing mantra “I’ll be fine”. This is probably where the vocals strike us at their best, enhanced with plentiful reverb and heart-wrenching warbles. Throughly genuine in their execution, this track is reminiscent of Isaac Gracie or Tamino, with the back-and-forth rhythm, crashing percussion, ghostly backing vocals and rich, expressive piano. This one leaves a lasting impression.

Our penultimate dive in into the EP is ‘Above Water’, another cinematic venture into their subtly subversive songwriting style. While the underlying formula is that of an indie-pop sing-along winner, All Poets & Heroes add their own lo-fi chaos and off-kilter rock elements that transforms this track into one that rings out the listeners soul of all that negative energy and pent up frustration.

Thanks to the sense of improvisation and live band recording style, we can easily imagine any of the EP tracks in a live setting and that also goes for closing single ‘Over Now’. The aptly titled track has a spacious quality to the wandering vocals and simple guitar refrain which may lead the listener to picture a darkened venue, with the band on stage, a captivated audience gently and reverently swaying to this bittersweet song.

The ephemeral tones of honesty, melancholy and contemplation that All Poets & Heroes so masterfully convey throughout the EP lingers in the air long after the final note has been sung, key has been pressed and string has been plucked. It’s an atmosphere that we hope carries on into part two of the tantalisingly named Colorful Lungs, Pt. 1.

You can listen to the EP’s title-track ‘Colorful Lungs’ in our Indie Rockers playlist.

Where to find All Poets & Heroes:




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