Based on their press photos (below), Roommate’s geeky image suggests either another set of new wave revivalists or the cast of Seinfeld. The music the Chicago-based outfit produce, however, is too earnest for comedy and rather more enduring than the latest set of retro-indie rockers. Indeed, frontman and songwriter Kent Lambert began Roommate over a decade ago and has steadily built up a group of like-minded bandmates, which in turn has led to a fuller sound.
Where groups like Mercury Rev and The Silent League conjure up images of fantasy worlds, Roommate’s songs have a familiarity which is entirely earthbound. ‘August Song’ is the first of many tracks full of heartfelt yearning whilst ‘Flicker Flame’ and ‘The Country With A Smile’ reveal their roots in 70’s soft rock. At its most experimental level, ‘Ghost Pigeon’ finds Lambert at his most despairing, lost amongst the layers of jazz and electronic instruments but the single ‘Snow Globe’ is more indicative of Roommate’s skills, as it slowly winds up the tension and tears in the manner of Radiohead circa ‘The Bends’.
As easy as it is to admire Roommate’s seamless blend of acoustic and electronic instruments, the constant is Lambert’s emotive vocals. Guilty Rainbow’ is a lesson in how to expand your musical ambition without losing the ability to convey intimacy.
‘Guilty Rainbow’ is set to be available from March 22nd.
In Civilian Clothing, The Silent League