Introducing—the sweetly roaring 2009 debut by San Francisco’s Brilliant Colors—left the indie-pop band with big expectations for a follow-up. But the second album, Again And Again, doesn’t even sound like a proper sophomore slump; it’s as if Brilliant Colors skipped the entire middle of its career and headed straight for the exhausted swansong. Where Introducing soars and explodes, Again And Again fizzles, offering little more than bland, indistinguishable pleasantries. “Round Your Way” is a mumbled, noncommittal valentine livened only by stuttering dreams, and “Telephone Stories” squanders the promise of a hooky bass intro by quickly descending into the same reverb-sodden, singsong mush the rest of the record is mired in.
“Painting Truths,” to its credit, taps into a fraction of the group’s previous spunk and nerve, but it’s too little, too late. Granted, many of the C86 and Sarah Records bands that clearly inspired Brilliant Colors follow a similarly diffident formula. But Again And Again feels like it’s skimming the dreaminess of that era without retaining any of its prickly quirk—or worse, any of its personality.