By Tessa Strasser
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, December 1, 2005
Calla describes its sound best when it says it's the "loudest quiet rock band." In fact, Calla likes to stay so low and quiet you probably have never even heard of the band. Collisions is Calla's fourth album, preceded by Calla in 1999, Scavengers in 2001 and Televise, in 2003.
The album kicks off with "It Dawned on Me." The song is lead by a driving harmony in the background by the guitar that pounds through your head. Combined with the lead singer's voice, it creates a creepy and moody sound, setting up an interesting tone for the album.
Many tracks are given over to a bit of musical experimentation. Electronic ornamentation in the background gives off a sense of wailing, adding to the prickling on the back of your neck that songs would lack without it. The songs without this come off as bare and plain in comparison, allowing the bass and guitar to dominate the sound.
Lead singer Aurelio Valle has a distinct style of singing by mumbling or whispering the lyrics almost inaudibly. This is kind of disappointing because the lyrics might actually be good; at times you can catch their witty catchphrases like "So what she said/it's a wonder why you're not dead/so far" to describe a relationship that's coming to a head or "Are you done/are you through/let me know the second they spit on you." It's just impossible to catch most of these lyrics with the lead singer continually getting drowned out by the louder music. Someone turn up his microphone - please?
The middle of the album starts to slump. The songs move too slowly and blend into one another.
Collisions starts to pick up with "Stumble." The chorus uses more than just Valle holding up the melody, and the two voices harmonizing complement each other. It contrasts the flatness of the guitars, and with a little bit of echo, it gives the song a bit of richness that other tracks lack.
"Testify" is where you actually realize that Calla is a rock band. It comes out loud and strong with a driving drum rhythm. "Swagger" allows the band to pound the hell out of its instruments with a tough abrupt beat. It's an aptly named track because the music finally has some confidence, almost a swagger to it.
It's after listening to these last tracks that you realize what great potential the album had to be great. If Collisions began with tracks sounding like these, Calla wouldn't be quite so quiet.