‘The World Within Our Bedrooms’ is as apt an album title as any, given that Drug Store Romeos largely penned it in their bedrooms in an obscure commuter town on the cuff of the M25. More than just being another hypnagogic pop record, though, the Fleet trio’s infectious debut is bursting with a sense of quiet passion, soaked in the fug of a hot-boxed bedroom and plied with the warm crackle of a guitar amp resting against a pillow.
Built on budget, eBay-bought Casio keyboards (the kind once marketed for school music rooms and high-street shoppers rather than synth connoisseurs), ‘The World Within Our Bedrooms’ emits a hazy sound that befits the band’s sleepy-eyed nature. But even beyond these primitive keyboards that blanket the whole album – imposter snare beats, head-melting synth drones and automated arpeggio sequencers included – there’s a wealth of sublimity to be found.
Take ‘Walking Talking Marathon’, which brings woodblocks, tweeting birds and slide whistles into the fold, or the dancing bass lines and bustling drums that inject addictive energy into ‘No Placing’. The chiming guitars in ‘Feedback Loop’ are similarly hypnotic, while woozy album closer ‘Adult Glamour’ mirrors the transcendent charm of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ with its oozing guitar bends. ‘Frame of Reference’, on the other hand, showcases the band at their most euphoric, radiating the same beachy heat that early Tame Impala was dowsed in, only here it’s supplied by primitive drum machines and fuzzy Casiotone rather than stoner-rock guitar licks.
Sarah Downie’s vocal presence only accentuates the band’s opiated charms. With lyrics scoured from trashy girl mags, pre-2000s technology publications and other pulp printworks (also bought off eBay), her curious wordplay brings a sense of playfulness to Drug Store Romeos’ songs.
Verses range from delicate enchantments (“I have a secret plan,” she confesses on, er, ‘Secret Plan’) to romantic refrains like “my heart rate increases” on ‘Bow Wow’. The latter is trumped only by the strength of the opening lyrics to one of the album’s best singles: “What’s on your mind?” Downie sings on the song of the same name. “I’ll tell you what’s on mine / The fact that we haven’t been seeing eye to eye.”
At 15 tracks long, ‘The World Within Our Bedrooms’ is, admittedly, a bit over-convoluted – but then that’s also part of the appeal. There’s a sense that had this album been released 30 years ago, it might be a cult classic by today — akin to Young Marble Giants’ ‘Colossal Youth’ or Stereolab’s ‘Emperor Tomato Ketchup’. Consider it an anthology of dozing micro-pop ditties, and this lucid debut makes a lot of sense. After all, what’s a good daydream if you can’t get lost in it?
- Release date: July 9
- Release label: Fiction