D.C.’s Color Palette Bears A Darkened Heart On ’80s-Indebted Album

By MacKenzie Reagan

Broken up: Color Palette's frontman has a knack for writing about failed relationships.
Broken up: Color Palette's frontman has a knack for writing about failed relationships.

It’s easy to compare Color Palette to bands like the Cure and the Smiths, and many listeners already have. The band has the melodic sensibilities of Roger O’Donnell, and its lyrics ring like echoes from Morrissey’s heart. But frontman Jay Nemeyer isn’t comfortable with that conversation.

“I was listening to those types of bands and also more contemporary stuff while I was writing all the songs from Vaporwave. But it almost seems like we’re not worthy to make that type of comparison. We think so highly of those bands,” says the Mount Pleasant resident.

After the dissolution of Nemeyer’s most recent band, The Silver Liners, he headed cross country to Los Angeles to record the album that would become Vaporwave, tracking the songs himself and and working with producer Kyle Downes, who previously produced The Silver Liners’ EP, Bliss. Nemeyer then hand-picked a team of area musicians to round out Color Palette’s lineup, including drummer Matt Hartenau, who previously played with The Silver Liners.

With the help of his new band, Nemeyer debuted Vaporwave at a release show at the W Hotel in May. It opens with “Seventeen,” a melancholy tale of young love lost. “I told her I loved her, but I didn’t know what love was,” Nemeyer sings.

It’s a microcosm of the dulcet agony at the core of Vaporwave. The heartache, thinly veiled by glistening keyboards, comes easily to Nemeyer, although he’s not sure why. Over the phone, he’s amiable and upbeat.

“I just have a really easy time writing about breakups, and I don’t know why. It’s just something that comes natural to me,” he says.

Color Palette plays July 16 at Red Panda House in D.C. and July 29 at the Rock & Roll Hotel in D.C.