Formerly named after PBS kids show Reading Rainbow, this Philadelphia band – urged by the cumulative pressure of a cease-and-desist letter and unfavorable public reaction, most notably from Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney, Portlandia) – re-emerges as Bleeding Rainbow. And as their third LP proves, this is more than just a change in name only.
Besides their nom de plume, the former duo is now a quartet, and it shows in their sound. The now-tighter squad features some added dimension and dynamics, all things demanded by their new sonic intent. Looking to shed much of their prior sweetness in favor of some darkness and gravity, their fizz-pop aesthetic is cross-stitched here with ’90s indie-rock drive and swirling shoegaze ether. Angular aspirations are sugarcoated with classic, dream-cast pop sensibility, like girl-boy harmonies for the slacker generation, all stroked with even thicker coats of noise than ever. The result is less Vivian Girls and more like a pop-centric Sonic Youth or a more straightforward Yo La Tengo.
As a formal announcement of this new day, album opener “Go Ahead” rises slowly until it breaks the horizon in an increasingly blinding ball of blistering guitar feedback. Other picks include the high-flying buzz-around of “Drift Away,” the My Bloody Valentine float of “Fall Into Your Eyes,” the Brit-pop fantasy of “Waking Dream” and the propulsive burst of “Losing Touch.” But none compare to “Shades of Eternal Night,” a late-’80s/early-’90s art-rock gallop that drops into a big, gorgeous exhale of pop chorus.
Yeah Right is a balance of urgency and drift, rough and soft. Most importantly, it’s a significant expansion for a band looking to grow. Their new sound may be the direct sum of its influences, but it’s culled with taste from prime influences. And, from early reports, it’s transformed their live show in huge sonic ways.
You can catch Bleeding Rainbow live this week, opening for the Cave Singers at 8 p.m. Monday, April 15, at Will’s Pub; $12.
★★★ (out of 5 stars)