It’s probably just journalistic laziness that keeps me coming back to terms like post-punk for bands such as The Room in the Wood. Although as a sort of shorthanded soundbite it communicates certain characteristics that were first and most deftly compiled in those head days as the punks learned that if they got their act together they could actually sell a few records. As a whole bunch of twitchy, angsty acts went off to form what became New Wave, many others fell into a very broad and varied, art-punk scene and The Room in The Wood would have fitted right at home there.
And whilst at first listen you can hear a polished take on The Fall, the drama but not the head aching intestity of Nick Cave and, particularly on tracks such as Raven Girl, a call back to the dark Doorsian haze, subsequent plays reveal much more depth, unique textures and clever construction. It is innovative, wilfully odd in places and wrestles with a wonderful dilemma of embracing rock and roll theatre whilst deliberately swerving anything overtly rockist.
Greedy Stars is the perfect place to start, deserving its prominent position as opening salvo and musical introduction, a sort of alt-pop jangle built on a busy shuffle with some stand out harmony vocals which add a wonderfully ethereal edge to its dark design and Magical Thinking which follows gets a second outing after being the title track of their last EP and rightly so. It does that rare thing of talking about …well, magical thinking – religion, mythology, cultism – a weird tale in its own right but never once falls into that cliched goth band way of revelling in such the subject and coming across like a starry eyed fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This is the real deal.
Sensation waltzes down a dustier alt-country, spaghetti western sonic pathway, as if Ennio Morricone had earned his stripes not as a jazz trumpeter and film scorer but had been a one time member of Echo and The Bunnymen and Sky Pool is a strange brew of heavenly 60’s vocal washes and brooding chamber pop majesty.
It’s an album that keeps giving, the first listen delivers post-punk memories, the second more progressive and alternative pop missives, the third reveals subtlety and depth and by the time you hit double figures you have been taken across time and genre, style and stance. If you think that familiarity breeds contempt then listen to this album, the more you play it, the more it feels like you are hearing it for the first time. How does that even happen?