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Synth Single Review: "The Outset" by Color Theory

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.


Color Theory’s The Outset is a song examining the complexity and contradiction inherent in human relationships couched in an interestingly crafted synth background. Quick, bright pulses of round, bouncy synth kick off the song, climbing and descending, against an open-sounding backdrop. Deep, thick bass begins to move into the music in a steady pulse. There’s a hypnotic quality to the full synths as thrums throb into the music, moving with the gritty bass.

Color Theory’s ghostly, yet warm and expressive vocals move in. The vocal melody is wandering and mysterious over the steady synth pulse. A wash of shadowed, full synth floats in, carried on a medium-low synth. There’s a return to the hypnotic synth pattern and Color Theory’s voice is multi-tracked to create a choir effect.

The lyrics are full of strong images and emotional descriptions. There’s a poetic sensibility as the narrator describes the song’s subject “twisting in nature's beauty, you glide along so smoothly when your blades are sharp.” There’s a sense of being shut out as the narrator says, “I soon got tired of waiting In the cold and dark, so I sent you straight to voicemail.”

There’s an implication that the song’s subject is self centred as they left another “fifteen minute message” and the narrator adds, “there are things I wish I'd known at the outset.” There’s honesty as the narrator admits to his “share of baggage” and adds that “sometimes it's hard to manage but I’m getting by.”

I enjoy the description of the song’s subject as “the perfect bandage” or a “lifetime’s wisdom packaged In a stable mind” but that stable mind was illusory as under pressure “the cracks begin to show.”

The narrator rues the fact that the subject of the song takes “delight in self-deception” and adds that trait to the list of things he wishes he’d known “at the outset.” The narrator continues as he says “I believe that people can change, but there are some traits set in stone.” There’s a sense of a sigh in the lines, “We are all victim to our habits. There are things I wish I'd known at the outset.”

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