Album Reviews

Rose Windows – Rose Windows

(Sub Pop) UK release date: 4 May 2015

Rose Windows - Rose Windows On the 30th March 2015, Seattle psychedelic rockers Rose Windows announced via Facebook that they had split. Turns out it wasn’t an ever so slightly early April Fool gag either; they really have called it quits just a month before their second long player now arrives.

“Sometimes in life we come across pure beauty – an experience that moves us towards a sense of hope; a complete respect for the purity and love that life can offer,” the official statement read before declaring that they would “no longer be moving forward”. Curious why upcoming gigs were still being eagerly looked forward to just a few days before then, if other posts were to be believed; how could such a sudden turnaround occur? Outpourings of love from fans then went into overdrive, but there doesn’t appear to be any turning back, with shows including the annual event of the year for the psychedelic genre, Austin’s Psychfest, or Levitation to give it its official name, being subsequently cancelled.

Whilst the psychedelic tag seemed very apt for 2013’s debut album The Sun Dogs, the eponymous follow up sees the (ex)-band generally head off in different directions, sometimes generating a slightly psych-folk presence, other times leaning towards something heavier. Often compared to San Francisco outfit Sleepy Sun after their early recordings, there’s only really the opening effort Bodhi Song that sounds anything like their Californian peers. A slow, twanging guitar reverberates throughout the introduction before turning into a short but excellent slab of psych-rock; if you had previously heard just this one song by Rose Windows you are likely to be confused somewhat at everything that follows, not least due to the male vocal whereas every other track features Rabia Shaheen Qazi on lead vocals. It’s really more like residue from the debut, and therefore struggles to fit in alongside the other new material.

Qazi guested on vocals on drone legends Earth’s latest collection Primitive And Deadly from last year and perhaps she has ambitions in this direction because her tone complements a heavier sound perfectly, like on Glory Glory for example. Heavy riffage adorns the track and with the stark contrast of Qazi’s vocals and occasional flute, the plodding giant is a major highlight. The Old Crow utilises the same chalk and cheese combination again for another epic moment, the infectious melodies set to more heavy guitar work is stunning. Strip Mall Babylon also ploughs a similar field for its down and dirty chorus, before leading into an organ chord sequence and more woodwind melodies inbetween quieter sections that hint at the other songs in the collection.

The mellow, bluesy Blind benefits from a more funky vibe before some compelling electric guitar work takes a hold, all whilst telling a story that could apply to the sad, continuous stream of defectors to the troubles in Syria. The acoustic led, toned down effort Come Get Us Again walks a completely different path but oozes powerful emotion before a stunning but short electric guitar solo wails against Qazi’s declaration of “I’ll leave it up to you”. A Pleasure To Burn represents another melancholy moment, with more acoustic guitar and dusky vocals amidst atmospheric synths whilst the shuffling Hirami carries a laidback smoky presence.

“We are all broken hearted,” the Facebook statement claimed. “Sometimes it’s not enough, sometimes we have to let go.” Judging by Rose Windows’ now final album, the shame is that differences, whatever they were, could not be overcome because a growing, developing collection of musicians was just beginning to dent the consciousness of a much larger audience. Instead of eagerly anticipating their next move, we are therefore left to cling to their last hurrah.

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