by Thomas Bedward August 17, 2021
Caught somewhere between England and West Africa, Alice Roosevelt have risen to become a band of undeniable intrigue. Currently based in Nyon, the diverse five-piece rose from the tragic ashes of Josef Of The Fountain, bringing with them a slow-burning industrial sound filled with ethereal shoegaze melodies and dynamic, shifting contradictions.
Released in the tail end of 2019, ‘Hammam’ is Alice Roosevelt’s debut album, and it’s an expansive and evolving story that leads through the band’s beating, creative heart and beyond. A nuanced collection of nine indie-cut tracks, the album is unassuming, unconventional, and utterly captivating, offering rough, unpolished gems that rally around an enduring sense of musical nostalgia.
Opening cut ‘Rhubarb & Strawberries’ lingers with off-kilter, poetic vocals and shifting, atmospheric instrumentals, overlaying deep, almost haunting melodies with upbeat percussive strokes in a defiant showing of originality. It’s a fascinating and wonderfully composed opening gambit, and as the album rolls on, the mystique and surreal nature of the record only build. Second track ‘Lobster’ conjures a more immediate sense of self, standing tall with robust choruses and glistening guitar chords that lay a perfect foundation for the vocals. It’s utterly disarming and one of the most entrancing singles you’ll have heard in years.
Elsewhere on the album, ‘Perlimpinpin’ breaks the mould with calculated spoken word elements, while ‘Like Glass’ pushes dark, post-industrial melodies and ‘Sometimes’ shines with a chaotic showing of force. In the second half of the record, ‘Primroses’ brings more calculated, layered cinematics, contrasting the gentle semi-acoustic nature of its counterpart ‘Modern Crime’, while closing numbers ‘Leftovers’ and ‘High / Low’ leave you with no doubt about the band’s abilities, leaning on more contemporary electronic flourishes to make their mark with perfect form.
Just as W. H. Lung captured the hearts and minds of the UK, Alice Roosevelt has undoubtedly done the same in Switzerland. Their debut pulls away from the mainstream and instead looks inwards to more dark and dystopic sounds, creating a unique and unforgettable sound that will linger for years to come.
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