Red Krayola Introduction

Leave it to the Red Krayola’s creative centrepiece Mayo Thompson to playfully confound everyone in sight by titling his open-ended, perpetually changing band’s first proper studio album in seven years (since 1999’s superb Fingerpainting) with the most misleading word possible —Introduction. Anyone expecting this album to be some kind of overarching insight into the wildly varied and prolific history of this 40-year-running shape-shifter of a group might as well be expecting to discover a universal meaning for life. Introduction is just as challenging, unique and rewarding as any Red Krayola album. It’s brimming over with complex and allusive songwriting that defies norms and expectations, and lyrics steeped in Thompson’s trademark humble and good-humoured intellectualism. The feel of Introduction is breezy, laidback and stripped down — a stark contrast to the massive group of collaborators who worked on Fingerpainting; this of course, has everything to do with the three-piece band backing Thompson has this time around: the skilled and experienced long-time members John McEntire, Stephen Prina and Tom Watson, who carve their spacious dynamic with slow, meticulous care. Charlie Abel’s accordion also sporadically adds spice to the proceedings, but its Thompson’s biting outlook and consistently wiser mindset that make Introduction the intriguing achievement it is. (Drag City)