Album Reviews

Rose – Rose

(Play Records) UK release date: 17 December 2007

Coming on at times like a voodoo lounge Happy Mondays, Rose marry dark, seductive saxophones and pianos with comedown Madchester beats to create something that sounds, while not exactly unique, interesting enough to make you want to hear more.

The debut album from the Glasgow band, Rose is an impressive first offering. Deep, often minimalist vocals, overlaying notes and rhythms that also stay close to the lower end of the scale, there’s a touch of burlesque about them, sleazy glamour lost down a back alley of glam, where it flirts with electronics and touches on something Boards of Canada might have left in the nightclub cloakroom.

At times not too far from MOR blues, at others swirling into dark paranoia, listening to Rose is like a come down in a flat you only half recognise, a morning spent semi-awake after a night that never quite ended. This increases as the album progresses, beginning with The Fires and finding its darkest moments on the aptly titled Slaughterhouse Of Love.

Towards the later tracks, the album comes back to a relative normality, mainstream blues helped along by a slow-burning piano that smoulders especially well on the final track, Nowhere. The result is equally disturbing and compelling, combining to make a decent package.

The band take their name and album title from lead singer and principal songwriter Peter Rose, who also took the photo that appears on the cover. Considering how prominent his creativity is in the mix, it’s appealing that he doesn’t come across as an egomaniac on the music, knowing just when to let his husky baritone seep through the melodies and when to leave the music to tell the story on its own.

Ultimately this is indoor music, much more so than the discernable rave influences of earlier tracks such as opener Adrenalin and Bleed Me would have you think, requiring a dance floor to burn up your energy before you retire to the comfy seats at the back, lean back and breathe slowly in time to the gentler riffs of tracks such as Ghosts and There Is A Weakness.

The dance hall-inspired Time Tropic is the most obvious contender for a radio-friendly single, if only they’d cut back on the sax solo, with a repeated refrain ‘Maybe we should die’, which is nowhere near as emo-soaked or depressing as you’d think. But singling out tracks isn’t really what Rose is about.

For a first attempt, the structuring is perfect, a real album in the true sense of the word, whose tracks work better in progression – in the order the band chose for them – than they ever will isolated from one another on an iPod. This is a huge strength and, in an era when music is downloaded in pieces, it would be a terrible shame if they’re not given the credit for this they deserve. It might be a dying art.

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