Portrait Avenue: Rainbow Escalator
Alternative & IndieRock
It’s not every day that one comes across a home-grown band that manages to create a unique sound. Emerging from progressive rock backgrounds, Portrait Avenue have evolved into an experimental, electronic indie sound that they can truly call their own with their recently released EP, Rainbow Escalator.
The album’s opener, 'Spiral', sets the tone for the expansive album and puts the listeners in a musical trance thanks to Belal’s hypnotic vocals complimented by Wadie’s heavy background drumming and a strong bass line that, all together, sounds like the love child of Radiohead and Porcupine Tree. On a whole, Rainbow Escalator has an intense pull to it despite essentially sounding mellow and laid back – perhaps due to its incorporation of a variety of unconventional sounds and instruments.
Lyrically, the group shines brightest on' My Design'. As Belal croons “my own design has turned against me/broke into my space”, the lyrics seem to nod to Oscar Wilde’s perhaps most famous masterpiece of a novel “The Picture of Dorian Grey.” The lyrics are accompanied by a rather melancholic melody, carried most impressively by the violin, which elevates the overall dramatic effect.
What makes the album quite different, in true homage to the progressive genre, is the stark differences in the temperaments it embodies. The listener is taken through a journey of moods, going from downtrodden to optimistic in a heartbeat, both musically and lyrically. Sometimes this shift in dispositions takes place within a single song as is the case with the delightfully perplexing Rainbow Ruckus. As its name suggests, the song seems to lyrically dissect a chaos of feelings, from infectious energy to draining confusion.
Tarek’s keyboards take a front seat in 'Cameras to the Fall' proving the album’s overall instrumental diversity. The seven-piece band cleverly steer clear of highlighting a single instrument or focusing on a single monotonous sound. What Portrait Avenue ingeniously nails is the blend of electronic effects with overall minimalism, making for an inimitable sound that incorprates hints of psychedelic rock.