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Pendulum - 'Watercolour'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:15 UK time, Wednesday, 28 April 2010


I give in. I can't feel what other people feel when they listen to this band. I get why it's fantastic that a group with rock sensibilities should be so transparently in thrall to the wonders of drum 'n' bass. I get that this is a crossover which really works, a way of stepping on the toes of rockbores and geeing up a nation of thrill-hungry ravers who live for the rollercoaster ride, up and down those musical peaks and troughs. As a live act, you'd struggle to call it between them and Enter Shikari for sonic punishment and audience berzerkitude.

I even get why those damned vocoders are such an essential part of the band's arsenal. Crank this up, louder than it is possible for volume to go, and you will want to throw all four limbs in as many different directions as there are, including inwards.

(Here's the video. It's wet.)

BUT, for all that they break new ground, they really don't break a LOT of it. Every single remix I've heard just makes whoever it is sound like Pendulum, which is not remixing in my book, that's identity theft.

Most of their songs sound amazing in isolation, but kind of anonymous when played next to each other, and really, once you've got to the one which is louder and harder and faster and more angsty than all the others, what use are the other ones? It's like musical weightlifting.

And a little bit of the melodramatic posturing goes a long way. Look at this:

"Will you take me out of here, when I'm staring down the barrel
When I'm blinded by the lights?"

If someone said that to you, in a moment of hysteria, even if the two of you were in the middle of a real crisis, you'd slap their face and tell them to get a grip. It's not helpful and worse, it's just plain clingy.

And anyway, who's gonna blind him with lights? Who's aiming a gun at him? Darth Vader? VOLDEMORT? Sheesh!

So, a five star song from a five star band, with one star docked for repetition, one star docked for the vocoder (because REALLY!) and a final one for acting like a big wet nelly.

It is, of course, going to go down a MASSIVE STORM at Big Weekend, and quite right too.

Two starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: May 3rd
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)


  • Comment number 1.

    Nice plug for the Big Weekend there Fraser, very subtle.

  • Comment number 2.

    Really?! Five stars from me. The vocodor is Pendulum's thanng so you cant deduct stars for that??

  • Comment number 3.

    Well compared to proper Pendulum anthems like 'PROPANE NIGHTMARES', 'Granite', and 'Slam', this is a rather lacklustre affair.

    2 stars from me.

  • Comment number 4.

    sheesh, i really have become undecided on pendulum, had they released a killer comeback single i might well have been thinking they've got something and hey i could be wrong the album could be all killer no filler except this track of course which appears to be one of the most atrocious in their back catalogue, so only time will tell, but please??!!?...


    "You can use the fire exit right over there, yep ok see you later....."

  • Comment number 5.

    This is a proper Pendulum track. It's brilliant, going to go down amazingly live and will grace my music collection for a long time.. for many situation. I completely love.

    It is a bit of a rehash though. I think it sounds a bit like album #1 mixed with album #2. In a way they have gone a bit backwards towards their more DnB roots, but at the same time it's rockier than the first album.

    To be honest though, I enjoyed the review and do kind of agree with the F man as usual.

    I think it was Chris Moyles said "Pendulum have just re-done the same track many times now .. I like the track... but it is the same".

  • Comment number 6.

    Hmmm, it's a definite grower. First thing that strikes you is that it IS very similar to their other singles in many ways, but it is also the most epic song they've ever done. Reckon it'll be their biggest hit to date (chart-wise) here in the UK

  • Comment number 7.

    Amazing live (tho not quite as good recently as they were before they released the hugely-disappointing In Silico) but it's definitely true that their songs are all pretty much the same, and that none of them have ever quite lived up to the promise that was 'Slam'.

    Stop messing everything up with mediocre vocals and go back to making amazing dance tunes, please.

  • Comment number 8.

    Pendulum , how dare you not come back with a song as good as , or better than the magnificent Propane Nightmares !

    This song is weaker on every level . Instrumentation , chorus , excitement , wow factor .
    An opportunity missed .

  • Comment number 9.

    Er no.. only "wow factor" perhaps.

  • Comment number 10.

    This is NOT proper pendulum... I agree with DanRhyn, go away with the vocals, it does not sound good. Propane nghtmares got away with it but its just been downhill since.

    Slam and Blood sugar were songs that were proper pendulum, make some like that again!

  • Comment number 11.

    Ah but I think there must be some look to maintain their commercial success, which they never achieved with Hold your Colour. Still a better album of course... but not as commercial.

  • Comment number 12.

    Yes, a big pity in all honesty, preferred the drum-and-bass sound of Hold Your Colour, with properly original samples like in Through The Loop

    I liked Propane Nightmares and was intrigued before their second album about an expansion in sound (the extra layering, big rock choruses and the like) but it has just made them more generic, and this is the most "meh" song yet - agree with the 2 stars

    Mind you, I probably would take everything back if there was a big dumb synth hook like in Blood Sugar...

  • Comment number 13.

    it sounds like a track that would fit in quite well in 'silico'.. although with each album they lose a bit more DnB. Hold Your Color and especially the track with the same name are sublime, and at the time turned many people to DnB.. i totally understand the review with the weightlifting metaphor though, they are just trying to sound more epic with each release... hopefully the album 'immersion' will have more tracks that reach the heights of tarantula, slam and fasten your seatbelts..

  • Comment number 14.

    I feel this song could have been more hook heavy and even more dramatic and progressed their sound , but as it's a lead single and a comeback , I can see it charting quite high , and may even crack the top ten .

  • Comment number 15.

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