East Yorkshire's new-generation shoegazers deliver a beautiful and often mysterious long player, featuring at least one cast-iron genre classic
A DEMO recorded on a smartphone, and a paucity of vowels: from such humble seeds Yorkshire’s bdrmm have flowered into probably the most hotly tipped band on the rejuvenated shoegaze scene.
So how did it all begin for bdrmm? Frontman Ryan Smith details the moment. “I remember being in my bedroom before a 12-hour shift at the local pub I worked at, and I was listening to Washed Out. Something inside resonated really strongly. [I got out] my GarageBand phone-to-jack interface and wrote a demo.
“I was extremely proud of it, especially considering it was recorded on an iPhone, so I stuck it on the BBC Introducing uploader. About a month later, when I was in the kitchen at work, I got an email saying that it had been played on Radio 1. It was then that I knew I needed to get a band together.
“The first person I asked was my younger brother, Jordan, due to our disgustingly identical taste in music, and an old bandmate, Joe. They came round to my house in Beverley and we set up our amps in the living room and jammed. I still remember it so clearly: it was a beautiful day and there was such a sense of optimism in the air.”
After making waves on the self-released digital scene, along came the home of all things swoonsome and gazey, Sonic Cathedral. An appearance on that label’s singles club run and a round-up EP later, and bdrmm are ready to blood their first long-player, Bedroom, also through Sonic Cathedral, on July 3rd.
… you won’t be disappointed. Opener “Momo” doesn’t drop you in full-bore; it eases you deep. It’s an instrumental with something of second-iteration Ride in its genes, with the way those guitars loft and chime and flood over chattering electronics. It shifts ever upward.
“Push/Pull” drops a few years further back for its reference points, with an epic minor-key riff that will please any Chameleons fan. But Ryan’s voice has a quality all of its own: swathed and echoey, like all the best shoegaze it’s not sat atop the music, but is woven in. It’s less a statement of lyrical intent and more of a texture. He has an adept understanding of the form.
“A Reason To Celebrate”, which recently received an Ulrich Schnauss-style electronic rerub from Ride’s Andy Bell (and implicitly, therefore, the nod from royalty) is a bona fide shoegaze classic of the first order. Yes, it’s up there with “Vapour Trail” and “When the Sun Hits” and “Winona”. There’s nothing particularly mysterious about why, no philosopher’s stone: it’s just bloody good songwriting, with a massive overdriven guitarscape and tendrils of feedback shifting to the simplest of sad, reverb-drenched refrains: “But it’s okay / For you to walk away” – building again and tugging away at your aorta with the beauty of repetition. Five stars. It’ll leave you wide-eyed.
“Happy” again has its feet in a more early-80s’ reading of the form, with a post-punkiness about the charging lead guitars; there’s something a little bit Will Sergeant at play. In a move that’s a little bit Pale Saints, a little bit Spacemen 3’s “Ecstasy Symphony”, it’s of a piece with the woozy ambience of the following track, “(The Silence)”. “(Un)happy” is another delirious wooze of guitar effects, reportedly built around, of all things, a sample of a mirthful Megabus driver. The off-kilter sway of Bradford Cox is a shade in the background of this sequence.
Emerging from a period of waking dream, we’re back front of stage, tromping on the pedals, for “If …” This is a tune with real teeth. The riffing heavier and heavier, and falling crucially just this side of rocking out. It breaks down into a chorus-laden, echoey, riff.
Like the opener, “Forget the Credits” is perfectly sequenced to close. Ryan’s vocals flood into the space, around which slowly articulated guitars go all Robin Guthrie, warm and shimmering and sunset-coloured. At the end, the song seems to fold back on itself, into backward masking and a drift out of consciousness before … a final bar of drums leads off you off and the curtain falls.
What’s the album about? “The subject matter spans mental health, alcohol abuse, unplanned pregnancy, drugs,” reveals frontman Ryan. “It’s a fucker growing up.” Not, of course, that you have front and centre documentation on this album. All of which, of course, is entirely as intended: “When I listen to a track, I want to be able to feel what the writer was feeling at the time of it being recorded. That’s why we resonate with shoegaze so much – it’s not just a song, it’s a feeling.”
Bdrmm’s Bedroom is released by Sonic Cathedral on July 3rd. To pre-order your copy, visit https://bdrmm.bandcamp.com/album/bedroom