This is a WORLD EXCLUSIVE REVIEW of one of the most hotly anticipated debut record releases of 2008. Read all about Rolo Tomassi’s fantastic first full-length record, Hysterics, right here. It’s quite some journey.
by Raziq Rauf
There once was a band from Sheffield who released an album in 1987 called Hysteria. That was Def Leppard. They went on to sell over 21 million copies of that record and the rest, as they say, is rock history.
21 years later and another band from Sheffield is due to release their debut album, called Hysterics. Are Rolo Tomassi giving a sly wink to their townsmen? Does this youthful quintet expect to harness the record-buying populace and shift units in the millions? It’s doubtful.
Interestingly, not a single one of the six magical songs from their self-titled debut EP can be found on this album. Not even the spooky, organ-driven mastery of the malevolent ‘Curby’ or the frantic two-minutes of Super Mario-esque brilliance known as ‘Film Noir’.
They may have taken their name from a fictional character in Oscar-winning, Hollwood crime thriller, LA Confidential but there is absolutely nothing fake or starry-eyed about these eleven tracks. Criminal and thrilling, however…
Led with aplomb by the ever-glamorous Eva Spence (pictured, below), Rolo Tomassi have spent the past couple of years crafting a debut album which excites and invigorates whilst still absolutely terrifying the unexpecting ear.
Tell any innocent bystander that the ear-melting screams they can hear are being emitted by a sweet little 18-year-old girl and they’ll probably laugh at you. This is where part of their magic lies.
From the epic opening track of ‘Oh, Hello Ghost’ which almost lulls you into a false sense of security with its lilting, wilting opening chords, relaxed riffs and Eva’s sweetly sung playground sneers. You already know not to trust them that much.
Again, during ‘I Love Turbulance’ and ‘Macabre Charade’, Eva displays her vocal versatility as she switches from quite frightening terrier-style yapping to singing which can only be described as angelic. The rest of the band complements everything she does throughout. As her vocals gain urgency, you hear the shoulders tauten and the drumsticks being held that bit firmer.
Take ‘Abraxas’, for instance, as the perfect Rolo Tomassi song. There’s a stilted flow from previous track ‘Fofteen’ which lends to a trademarked tumultuous opening which leads to riffs which veer comfortably and uncontrollably between the spazzy and the rock’n’rolly before descending steeply into their absolutely essential, keyboard-driven Nintendo world.
You can listen to ‘Abraxas’ on Rolo Tomassi’s official MySpace.
If, at this point, you do not find yourself absent-mindedly destroying the majority of your immediate surroundings – with a huge shit-eating grin on your face all the while – you’re doing it wrong.
Whilst you take in the new view and catalogue the debris around you, however, Rolo give you a minute or so of chilled out film music from outer space with ‘An Apology To The World’. How kind of them. They play this card again with ‘Everything Went Grey’ before unleashing the anti-pop franticness of ‘Scabs’.
‘Nine’ is the first song to clock in at over four minutes. Registering the multitude of movements and emotions this song goes through would be one of the more laborious tasks of the day, so let’s just say that it’s rather complex.
If you’re a fan of complex, Rolo Tomassi have saved the best for last. ‘Fantastia’ is fourteen minutes of eyes closed, balls-to-the-floor, progressive hardcore self-indulgence in the best possible way. Skipping through moods and styles with ease and conviction, it appears that the band has come of age.
Make no mistake about it: with Hysterics, Rolo Tomassi have created an album that is as far from an easy listen as you’ll get. Don’t expect it to sell 20 million copies, but as debut albums go, this is one of the most compelling British hardcore debuts of recent times and is truly, truly vital.
Rolo Tomassi – Hysterics tracklisting
‘Oh, Hello Ghost’
‘I Love Turbulance’
‘An Apology To The World’
‘Everything Went Grey’
Hysterics by Rolo Tomassi is released on 22 September 2008 on Hassle Records