Here’s a test: How many good British post-hardcore/emo bands can you think of? It’s okay we’ll wait…
Yeah, there aren’t too many huh? If we bend the rules we could squeeze in More Than Life, but they’re more straight up hardcore. When it comes to jangly indie rock, Britain is king but British punk rock? Forget about it because there’s not much going on in that department. All of which makes the debut album from Basement, the latest addition to the ever growing roster of awesome bands on Run For Cover Records, all the more fascinating.
Haling from Suffolk, UK, this five piece plays a decidedly un-British brand of rock. Think less Oi Oi Punk and more 90s post hardcore in the vein of Sunny Day Real Estate and Lifetime. However, although Basement’s influences are clear for all to see, they simply aren’t rehashing sounds from a past era; instead they’ve injected their own youthful energy and vigour into the mix.
Such is the quality of the musicianship that it’s hard to believe when listening to I Wish I Could Stay Here that this is Basement’s debut record. “Fading” kicks things off with a bang as pounding drums and loud guitars establish the mood and tempo. Second track “Plan to be Surprised” continues in the same manner with a melody that is all kinds of catchy. Yet despite the strong openers, it is the third track “Canada Square” that elevates Basement above the plethora of similar bands floating around today. Slower and more introspective than the fist two tracks, “Canada Square” showcases the vocals of Andrew Fisher whose performance drives the song and confirms that you’re listening to something desperate and heartfelt.
“Canada Square” symbolises the rapid evolution of Basement. The pop punk of their previous EPs has given way to a softer, deeper sound that is considerably more engaging. “Earl Grey” is perhaps the best example of this transformation while “Ellipses” is a melancholic instrumental track that perfectly transitions the listener into the second half of the record. However that is not to say that I Wish I Could Stay Here gets lost gazing at its own navel. The record shifts gears between fast and slow expertly and never allows the listener to become bored or disinterested. Basement are using a broad palette to write their music that most other bands of their ilk cannot match.
Thematically, Basement isn’t new breaking ground nor are Fisher’s lyrics especially brilliant but they are delivered with the passion and sincerity that makes it all too easy for the listener to be swept up into the energetic melodies.
I Wish I Could Stay Here is an album that works like a virus. It may not immediately grab you on the first listen but on multiple plays its catchy hooks and slow burning vocals will pull you in and before you realise it, it will be the only thing you’re listening to. With this record, Basement have fired a warning shot that they are a band on the rise and it’s exciting to think where their next album will take them if their development continues at this rapid rate. A contender for the sleeper hit of 2011.
(Run For Cover Records)