Album Reviews

The Ramona Flowers – Dismantle And Rebuild

(Distiller) UK release date: 14 July 2014

The Ramona Flowers - Dismantle And Rebuild Named after a character from comic book film Scott Pilgrim vs The World, The Ramona Flowers are an intriguing five piece from Bristol. Formed in 2010, the quintet of Steve Bird, Sam James, Wayne Jones, Dave Betts and Ed Gallmore won’t set the world alight with their very un-rock star like names but a run of impressive singles suggests the Bristolians have something thrilling to offer the world of rock music nevertheless.

The Dismantle EP was the first recording to surface in 2012 and was the subject of a number of remixes including one by D/R/U/G/S; in fact there’s been a whole host of remix requests made for a number of their songs including offers from Hot Chip, Ladytron and Alt-J. All undoubtedly very encouraging news for the boys and now, after nearly two years of work at their label’s own studio The Distillery in Bath, the album arrives.

“The song and melody are the most important things,” James has previously stated and that will come as a breath of fresh air in comparison to the numerous artists that prefer to hone their sound first, with songwriting skills often falling short. But throughout Dismantle And Rebuild, this comes at a price as the band occasionally veer from one style to another.

Album opener Tokyo recalls ’90s outfit Mansun; a distorted electronic intro sounding like a malfunctioning hoverbike from Star Wars lurches into earshot before a stop/start electronica based effort furnished with atmospheric guitar strokes create a captivating effort bearing dark undertones. Another single Brighter follows, a cut that features a simple yet effectively soaring chorus that heads off to arena filling stadium rock; all very uplifting stuff.

The title track changes direction, a dubstep like beat and unusual percussion form the verses whilst a reverberating chorus aims for the skies before guitar touches and more varied electronica contributions see the track to its conclusion. The subtly gorgeous Lust And Lies features falsetto vocals amongst upbeat guitar strums with another ridiculously simple chorus of “how right you are” defying its own simplicity alongside warm chord progression to provide a moment of sheer beauty.

World Won’t Wait is another stop/start cut featuring strings and a powerful, emotion charged chorus. Modern World’s slow twanging bass line and high pitched vocals create a pleasant exterior as a sweetly sung chorus then helps mask a darker underbelly of intrigue as Bird’s complaints of “I can’t make sense” hint at mental instability. Skeleton Key lurches along before synths take over alongside a swooning chorus although a questionable chord change sounds misplaced.

Latest single Vultures opens to an unaccompanied stuttering guitar line before another Mansun like track emerges, its synth backed chorus aiming for anthem like status amongst loud/quiet interchanges. The album then becomes a little muddled; firstly, Friend Of The Madness switches between string synths and bouncy guitar pluckings to a repeated message of “shiver and shake, foundations break”.

The jazz inflected So Many Colours is different again, ultimately failing to go anywhere during its confused structure and is rather awful in comparison to the rest of the album. Like A Feather (featuring Lou Rhodes) changes direction again, its subtle beauty probably better placed in a different collection as the album closes to a sound that could be a completely different band.

With support slots for the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club and Bastille, the band have already tapped into a huge potential fan base and there is plenty of evidence here to suggest it will keep growing. There seems to be a number of ideas thrown together into the mix and this does result in the collection sounding a little confused towards its conclusion but there are many highlights before this point that suggests The Ramona Flowers are likely to be around for a long time.

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The Ramona Flowers – Dismantle And Rebuild