Your early twenties can often be so full of uncertainty, especially in today’s world. That’s an understatement for Northern shoegazers bdrmm, who explained to NME recently how their debut album ‘Bedroom’ deals with everything from unplanned pregnancies through to alcohol and substance abuse, as well as the resulting mental fallout.
‘Bedroom’ is an album that’s been four years in the making – it’s been that long since frontman Ryan Smith wrote his first demo before clocking in for a twelve-hour shift at his local pub. Quickly growing into a five-piece, it wasn’t long before bdrmm’s bright shoegaze singles and live shows led to them signing to Sonic Cathedral, a label renowned for being a paradise of noise, and releasing their debut EP ‘If Not, When?’ in October. Nine months later, bdrmm’s first full-length record has arrived: churning with disarming sentiment every step of the way, it’s no wonder that Smith described the writing and recording process as a form of therapy and escapism.
These weighty and brutally honest themes are immediately felt as the first pulsing guitar notes of opening instrumental ‘Momo’ ring out. The track is sharp and precise, yet showcases a band taking their time and announcing themselves on their own terms. It’s a beautiful and sparse introduction with a looming sense of pent-up anxiety.
That moment comes with ‘Push / Pull’, a fittingly titled tangle of emotions with spiralling guitars and dramatic percussion which throws us further into a well of glimmering introspection. The vocals are worth the wait as Smith drags you deeper into his headspace: “You don’t know how much it meant to me / That we spent that night / So carefree.” The track is a wonderful snapshot of how this band are able to painstakingly craft a fascinating soundscape to match the magnitude of their subject matter.
The experience of listening to shoegaze can so often lull you into a daze or see you becoming lost in a wider picture – but these guys aren’t having any of that. Next up comes the heavy, stabbing-effect guitars of ‘A Reason To Celebrate’, which wouldn’t sound out of place on My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’. The track opens up into a canyon of euphoria as they sing “well, it’s okay for you to walk away” in a defining anthemic moment.
‘Gush’ then details the blunt feelings behind a relationship which is presumably long done and dusted. Smith is bursting with sincerity as he achingly muses: “It’s not that I didn’t try to keep my shit together / This whole ordeal just took over.” There’s a lot of healing going on behind this process, and it’s matched with musicianship that treads a fine line between sincere shoegaze and taut post-punk.
Single ‘Happy’ is a clear-cut standout through its pluckier and brighter indie sound which is powered by propulsive, DIIV-like guitars. The album then briefly drifts into a state of compelling and deeply gloomy exploration, with a full-circle ‘(Un)happy’ even sampling a grainy bus driver who was recorded during a world-ending hangover. The band are, however, able to coast back into familiarity with the effortless ‘Is That What You Wanted To Hear?’, a track that echoes their inspiration points that range from Radiohead through to Ride and Slowdive.
Vulnerability seeps through ‘Bedroom’ at every turn, but it’s veiled in a relatable beauty that’s both meditative and cleansing. bdrmm have mastered that fine art of conveying emotion through their music with a deft intelligence, and their debut immerses you with each listen and says: “Hey, it’s okay to screw up now and again – but learn from it.” A glorious and human introduction, this is without doubt a modern-day shoegaze classic.
Release date: July 3
Record label: Sonic Cathedral