From Iceland — Just the Same Old Rainbow

Just the Same Old Rainbow

Published June 26, 2008

Just the Same Old Rainbow
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The first thing I thought walking into the concert was “God, what a lot
of people.” Hraun, playing at Rúbin this past Monday, managed to pack
every table with eager fans. So assured were they of the quality of the
music, I heard absolutely no complaints when the band showed up onstage
50 minutes late. From there, we embarked on a trip through every facet
of the emotional spectrum. We began at plaintive, then climbed to
happy, then switched to tortured angst, but then we skipped quickly to
comforting and then arrived at catchy. To match the appropriate timbre,
some band members had to constantly change instruments to keep up,
putting down flutes to whip out mandolins, only to toot on an oboe for
the next song. The audience didn’t miss a single cue. They bobbed their
heads at happy songs, furrowed their brows at angry ones and looked
sympathetic at sad ones. If there’s one thing Hraun does well, it is
certainly accessibility.
Hraun’s clear intention is variety – “Painting the emotional rainbow”
in their words. Their new album, which this concert largely featured,
represented a “journey from misery to redemption.” Yet, despite their
claims of exploring the emotional capacity of music, they really don’t
try very hard. As easily as we can classify “Happy” and “Sad”, so can
we categorise each one of their songs only a few notes in. To delve
into the expressive capacity of music is a necessary prerequisite for
any musician, but for this rudimentary test, Hraun is completely
half-assing it. Their songs seek only trite repetition of predigested
themes. The result is uninspired, unmoving, and ultimately
uninteresting music, whose only strength is in its ability to pander to
stock emotions. If music is a language, Hraun has the vocabulary of a
three-year old.
It’s no wonder then, that Hraun attracts a large audience. It is
unchallenging, pleasant music with nothing to “get”. But even though
the show began with a full house, I noticed a steady trickle on their
way out as the concert pressed on. After all, no matter how long we
travelled through those oh so different emotions; we just ended up
hearing the same old songs.

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