Run For Cover Records
23 October 2012
by Alex Andrews
It sounds like a cliché, but bands like Basement don’t come around too often. In their short life span, the five kids from Ipswich toured three continents, recorded two albums and managed to sell out their last ever show – happening at the Camden Underworld next month – in less than 10 minutes. Beyond the hype, though, was a band capable of charming even the most jaded with their heavy-hearted take on melodic hardcore that channelled all the bookish innocence of a distant emo scene.
It’s the latter territory which the band explore further on what is set to be their swan song, and particularly the grungy, riff-driven sound popularised by bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Texas Is The Reason in the ‘90s.
If the early teasers caught you off guard with their gruff vocals and big, muddy riffs, what is immediately surprising about the album is how well it fits together from the very first listen. ‘Covet’, in particular, sounds a lot better in the context of the record, with the combination of the loud-quiet-loud dynamics and Andrew Fisher’s slow, mournful delivery sounding similar to Sunny Day Real Estate’s ‘In Circles’. By the time ‘Pine’ kicks in, the jangly, leisurely-strummed guitars and languid vocal style bring a Dinosaur Jr. flavour, which is complimented by the subsequent ‘Bad Apple’. But it is ‘Breathe’ which provides the album with its shining centrepiece, with the band achieving slow-burning emo perfection in just over five minutes.
It’s fair to say that lyrical depth was never Basement’s forte, but it never once felt like a hindrance. Through simple themes and Fisher’s expressive voice, their songs have often emitted a real sadness, which in turn, has helped to make them so engaging. 2011’s I Wish I Could Stay Here appeared to deal intimately with the highs and lows of a long-distance relationship and colourmeinkindness feels equally personal, if not quite as nostalgic. Fisher, in fact, sounds a little world-weary at times, dropping frank confessions like: “I don’t love you / I just need to be loved.”
Neither ‘Control’ nor ‘Black’ leave much of an impression, but there is still enough here to provide the listener with a warmth that will last well beyond the coming winter. This is a sound of a band that had already nailed a fresh take on a prevailing and very modern sound, only to revisit the songs and sounds that had presumably inspired them to play music in the first place. The obvious reference points are not Lifetime or Title Fight, but Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. It’s not a cool album by any stretch – and it’s difficult to imagine how Basement would be welcomed were they to stick around – but as a parting gift, it’s more than enough.
Sounds Like: Emo kids rediscovering grunge and guitar pedals.
Standout Tracks: Breathe, Covert, Pine.