taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder


RGB Following in the footsteps of folk artists like Blind Pilot and Ben Sollee, the Chapel Hillvia-Miami duo VIRGINS took the DIY touring ethic to the extreme: they ditched the van, slung their instruments on their backs and bicycled across the country to record their debut album RGB. Like the title suggests, it’s a blended palette of warm indie folk, hazy psych and moments of bold discoloration in the vein of the Love Language or Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Like being recorded during a bicycle tour suggests, it utilizes quite a sparse arrangement, almost entirely strings with just a dash of handclaps, tambourines and guitarcase beats. The duo, which consists of Saman Khoujinian and Gabriel Anderson, still make the most of their space. The album opener and de facto title track “Red Blue Green” is awash in surf harmonies, while the lilting vocals on “Dolphin” are set against plush doo-wop accompaniment. RGB has a tendency to shift directions mid-song that can confound, however.

“Quiet Friends” starts off like the soundtrack to a gondola ride in Venice and quickly turns into the melody from Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” set to Gregorian chants. “Silo” starts amidst ambient rain and slamming car doors, gets rather weird and unfocused, but finishes strong with an uptempo burst that speaks to the transience of relationships on the road. That said, VIRGINS are best when they keep pace from start to finish. “Don’t Worry About Wrinkles” is a cool little slack key-inspired ditty that displays Anderson’s astonishing vocal dexterity, and finisher “Aqua Is A Great Color” puts the album’s dispersed strengths together in a single package. Despite a few gamut errors on RGB, it’s still a strong debut forged under unusual circumstances.