In concert, with tribal beats quivering the chest, cracked digital squeals straining the ear’s limits, and flailing limbs adding spectacle to chaos, it’s easy to get transported by the tangible force of Los Angeles industrial/dance hybrid HEALTH. Sans sensory overload, their second album, Get Color, finds a band with a distinctive sound, that hasn’t yet figured out how to write effective songs using it. The novel tones and reckless shifts are here, but lack a strong connective structure. It’s no accident that advance single “Die Slow” is easily the record’s best—it’s also got the most traditional construction. The song’s pairing of strobing synths and grinding beats is fresh, but the song succeeds ultimately on its delicate pacing, its commitment to letting a sticky instrumental bit repeat and return, and its willingness to chill out for a second to let a breezy vocal hook sink in. When all of its moving pieces are clicking, there’s a legitimate thrill. “Death +” also succeeds on a compositional level; pausing its pervertedly catchy synth repetition to lend space to soft, twinkling loops and wordless sighs before hammering the main refrain back into the listener’s skull. Elsewhere, tracks ramble and lurch, occasionally surprising on first exposure, but not interesting enough to linger in the memory much longer.
The weakest element of Get Color is the vocals of frontman Jake Duzsik. Every track on the record features Duzsik’s high, ethereal voice dusted uniformly with a slight digital frost (which is likely labeled “shoegaze” in masking tape on an enormous mixing board somewhere). There’s a dynamic range in the other elements of the music. The drums can swing from pummeling noise-punk to icy goth-pop. The synths conjure all manner of robot apocalypse, in “Eat Flesh” even sounding like a cruel, syncopated slaughterhouse floor. But the singing, or more accurately the monolithically produced, unintelligible sighing, doesn’t attempt to follow. It’s even a little too blasé to function as pure wordless emotion. There’s blood in these tracks, sure, but Get Color doesn’t make it to the head or the gut nearly enough.