Ah yes, shoegaze, “The Scene That Celebrates Itself”, the genre that made way for Britpop but never went away. For many, shoegaze shall forever exist in the late 80s and early 90s and be linked with the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Lush, and Slowdive. If one band, and one album, was to capture the ‘modern shoegaze’ sound, it would surely be bdrmm and their 2020 debut Bedroom.
bdrmm are a five-piece from Hull who came together piece-by-piece beginning in 2016. Live shows put them on the map and in 2019 they released their debut EP If Not, When? through Sonic Cathedral, so it’s been somewhat of a whirlwind ride.
Bedroom: A modern shoegaze classic
Lyrically, Bedroom is a deeply sentimental and introspective album. It explores lost relationships and the process of growing up among its themes.
As early as ‘Push/Pull’, the second track, frontman Ryan Smith sings: “You don’t know how much it meant to me, that we spent that night, so carefree”. Move along to ‘A Reason to Celebrate’ and they sing: “Well it’s okay, for you to walk away” in unison. These lyrics deal with relationships but what about the self?
Well, further down the line in ‘If’, a standout track, Smith tackles a personal struggle:
I’m waking anxious
It shouldn’t get
To the point where
I am feeling
Like we need to
Like we need to
Bring the other down”
However, it’s perhaps the sound of Bedroom that separates it from the lot. It’s not your typical shoegaze sound; bdrmm blend a plethora of genres into punchy, throbbing songs.
Tracks ‘Momo’, ‘Happy’, ‘If’, and ‘Is That What You Wanted To Hear’ don’t simply rest on safe sounds. No, instead they pull and drag, undulating as they should when communicating emotions and existential struggles.
Where many of the “classic” shoegaze records sound and feel ethereal and dreamy; Bedroom‘s songs could end up on an array of playlists.
Decide for yourself but I’ve always found shoegaze to be somewhat spellbinding. Songs have the ability to put you in a sort of trance. You don’t study the sound or vocals so much, you just rent your mind out to the visceral transference.
I for one was blown away by Bedroom from the first listen. It’s enough evidence in 41 minutes, if we ever needed it, that shoegaze isn’t dead, it’s just moved to Hull.
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Photo credit: bdrmm.bandcamp.com