The Bedroom Hour's debut album. Released 14/7/14
Pepsi Max or Irn Bru?
As far as eternal debates go, this one's up there with the chicken and egg one. Higher, if you're The Bedroom Hour's Rob and Stu. It's of vital importance to them, and debated so vehemently that I was worried the album I'm about to review would never be released due to at least one of them going to prison following some kind of carbonated genocide. Pepsi Max runs through my veins, states guitarist Rob. Irn Bru pisses all over Pepsi Max, replies the Scottish-in-all-but-birthplace frontman. It continues at length, in a kind of amiable, sibling-like bickering way. I daren't ask them where they stand on Lilt...
Soft-drink-related band story aside (for now. The debate will run and run no doubt), July 14th marks the release of the band's debut album, Hinterland. And what a leviathan of an album it is. Drawing inspiration from a line in a Death Cab For Cutie song about feeling like a tourist in your own city and playing on thst theme of isolation and loss, it has been crowdfunded by dedicated fans (me included, for the record. Literally). Featuring the band's characteristic sweeping melodies but steering away from the more downbeat, introspective feel of last year's EP, Themes, this album is the unfurling of The Bedroom Hour's indierock mainsail - and they'd be delighted to have you aboard. Bring rum.
Opening with the dreamy, lilting Ocean - which really works as an intro to Sea Without Water - there's a lot of ebbing, flowing, swishiness. It's all very aqauatic and floaty, until the edge of Nocturnal kicks in and you realise you're hooked. One of their earlier songs, this finds its rightful place on the album as Stuart's vocals really start to let loose - just in time for the epic Heart Will Haunt.
When I wrote a feature on the band last year before their second Manchester gig, I focused on Heart Will Haunt. It was the first TBH track I ever listened to and I was blown away from the beginning. I described it as 'A particular favourite, from its dreamy, moody beginning, through soaring choruses, building subtly to a crescendo. It’s smooth, moving and utterly captivating with a real richness of sound and suitably gravelly vocals'. I stand by that. With a few extra tweaks and more emphasis on the drums, this subtly reworked version is the business.
So, how do you top that when you're only five songs in? Answer; a big, shouty-chorused anthem. Hello, Broken. Not only the song title, but also the state of my neighbour's eardrums after hearing me belt out the chorus. Here on in, it all starts to get fairly epic. We're at the singalong, soaring chorused epicentre of the album, tracks like the sublime Sapphires and Ghost of a Smile ramping up the volume as eveything crashes together, Stu's voice really unleashed as Rob and Mark fire out riffs and melodies for fun. Sapphires in particular stands out as being everything the band are about, with big beats, a strong, sweeping tune and massive chorus, They love a big, belting chorus, this lot, They're not the only ones....
WW/Me (or World War Me) is, at this moment in time, my favourite track. Darker and more intense than anything I've heard from them so far, this has echoes of Simple Minds, Joy Division, maybe a touch of Editors. I love it for the strident bassline and staccato drums that drive everything forward. This is where Andy and Lewis shine. Rhythmic and deep, it is incredible.
It all gets a bit early U2 for I See Suns, thankfully only musically. Think The Joshua Tree era rather than later political wankerama. A classic, room-filling sound, this is all power chords and belting vocals, Stu in the middle of this whirlwind of sound, kicking out the chorus like a bearded, Home Counties Bono - thankfully without being a sanctimonious, perma-Raybanned arsechafe. Title track Hinterland takes us back down for a moment, letting us get our breath back before the beautiful A Map Made From My Bones. LOVE the synth in this. We're back from pure power to that sweeping, majestic sound that The Bedroom Hour have really nailed. Feels like it's all finished too soon.
As far as debut albums go, The Bedroom Hour have played a blinder here. Instead of rushing something through, they've taken their time and created something beautiful. It builds up steadily, the composition has been carefully thought out, the mastering is spot on and further listens uncover little nuances - a riff here, a poignant lyric there - that add texture and soul. I've said it before (and will say it again), this is a band who have worked together carefully to hone their sound till it really works, creating something rich and cohesive. I am proud to have been a part of it.
The Bedroom Hour launch Hinterland on Saturday July 12th at Night And Day, Manchester. Find them on Facebook at Twitter @thebedroomhour or www.thebedroomhour.com.
I'd like to thank the band for all their time with interviews, incessant question asking, feedback and general conversation. You make writing reviews a breeze and it's always a pleasure to talk to you. See you soon!