It’s hard to know where to even start with a band like this, mostly because it’s another case of a band setting themselves almost unfeasibly high expectations. Even so, it needs to be touched on once again, and at least Room 1985’s intended origins as a synthwave project are interesting. Since Chris Crysand’s first ideas though, Room 1985 have become a fully-fledged band, building upon that electronic foundation with leanings towards progressive and psychedelic rock for something more expansive and ethereal.
And thus, here’s The Bliss, in which each of the band’s individual threads come together to fully establish what Room 1985 are, a semi-instrumental, unashamedly contemporary take on prog that’s fully aware of the magnitude of its own ideas and ambitions. Ideally, that should make for a truly fantastic listen, but in reality, The Bliss could barely feel like a more boring or inconsequential album if it tried, flattened under its own great scale without even a chance to forge a workable path from whatever remnants are left.
It’s not exactly Room 1985’s fault either; ambition is always good to have, and in the fleeting moments when something solid does arise, like the heavier, more propulsive electronics that run through Attention Seeker, there’s at least something that could be suitably built upon. Elsewhere though, the bloat is extreme, running on an overweight combination of pounding synths and fat, largely formless guitars that barely form any sort of cogent through line, or even anything to latch onto. Then there’s the abundance of vocal samples, and again, there’s nothing really impressive or indicative of a single narrative that well-used samples often offer; the focus on aliens and UFOs on The Arrival admittedly works with the more bombastic instrumentation, but then there’s The Tentacles Of The Oz which utterly fails at its “state of the world” addresses that feel so forced and laboured.
That’s pretty much the only constant that The Bliss has, too; the ideas are admirable, but in style, execution and intent, there’s not a single thing that Nothing More haven’t done thats comparably tighter or exponentially more enjoyable. This is just a slog from front to back, one which has the odd nice idea, but barely explored to any extent that can make them even remotely workable. Room 1985 could work in future, but the chances are very slim.
For fans of: Muse, Nothing More, Porcupine Tree
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Bliss’ by Room 1985 is released on 10th August on Analogue Trash Records.