We’re a long way from In The Shadows now, aren’t we? Almost 20 years away in fact, which shows that the primary vehicle for The Rasmus’ re-emergence this year being Eurovision is probably not conducive with a band who’ve had a storied career in the interim. They have still been around—they’ve never even taken a break since forming in 1994–but it says a fair bit that this current high point has come around via being thrust into the public eye by force.
So it’s no wonder that Rise turns out as it does, clearly a late-period release from a one(ish)-hit wonder, unaccustomed to the prime time visibility that’s suddenly been imposed upon them. The goth-pop aesthetic is very 2000s as it is, but that’s accompanied by flimsy pop-rock production and a lack of convincing bombast that could at least get the motor running. It’s why Jezebel stands out as it does, being their Eurovision entry that’s naturally more ripened for something bigger, as are Live And Never Die and—for the most part—Endless Horizon. But that only highlights how stringent The Rasmus’ ‘singles band’ design philosophy is, when the gulf between the best material and the filler is so noticeable.
Just look at Fireflies or Odyssey, songs which feel so limp and devoid of a low end in how they trundle by without accomplishing much of anything. That’s unfortunately the norm for Rise; it’s swallowed by its own production where nothing is given suitable weight (just look at how the title track attempts anthemia but is robbed of it), and sounds so thin because of it. When the punctuating bell tolls throughout are louder than most guitar or bass passages, that’s quite clearly a mismanagement of resources.
It even extends all the way to Lauri Ylönen‘s vocals which only ever bring some power on the aforementioned highlights, and writing that’s heavily indebted to the most pared-back forms of self-esteem templates and decade-old themes of being different. Quite fitting for a band whose mere existence has been a blip on the radar since 2003 then, and the fact that Rise is still so heavily fitted in that mould is conclusive proof that their material has been the same since, and rising to the top in this way has done no favours for them. Perhaps it’s harsh to chide them too much then, given this is probably exactly what their fans want, but at the end of the day, it still isn’t very good.
For fans of: Thirty Seconds To Mars, HIM, Poets Of The Fall
‘Rise’ by The Rasmus is released on 23rd September on Playground Music.
House Without A View
At this point, it might be easier to consider Lande Hekt as primarily a solo artist. For the time being anyway, seeing as this is her second solo album in as many years, while her band Muncie Girls’ last lot of new material was all the way back in 2018. But Lekt’s prolificness does name sense; not only does her patient, pleasant singer-songwriter indie-rock seem a lot more straightforward to get down, but it’s a more efficient means of chronicling a changing world and her experiences within it, arguably House Without A View’s strongest suit.
It’s definitely where the majority of interest will be drawn, on what’s otherwise an indie-rock experience boasting the standard lack of frills and fanfare that leaves it rather modest overall. That’s not to be confused with ‘bad’, though, because it certainly isn’t. It’s very tastefully produced, a little haggard and ramshackle around the edges by design, and generally easy to sink into soft, mid-tempo jangles that are quite likable all the way through. There’s an abundance of homespun charm to keep everything aligned and going at a fair pace, even if that means significant thrills or highlights can be hard to come by. At the same time, that’s replaced by uniformly solid work, mostly anchored in acoustic guitar that skips across Backstreet Snow and First Girlfriend with whimsy, while grounding Always Hurt and the title track in a more contemplative mood.
So far, so indicative of this branch of indie-rock, and while Hekt’s writing can slot similarly in that vein, it’s still unquestionably where most of the heavy lifting takes place. It helps that her delivery is as plaintive as it gets for the words to take centre stage, as she ruminates on coming out as gay among a world still trying to adjust post-pandemic and drenched in the anxieties of late-stage capitalism. There are still rays of positivity that cut through the uncertainty though, in an adventurous spirit illustrated on Gay Space Cadets, or just an ode to Hekt’s cat on Lola that’s exactly the sort of quaint, hyper-focused subject matter that albums like this knock out so effectively.
Even if House Without A View isn’t exactly a barnstormer (though the same is also true of most in its lane), it’s moments like that which make it a decent, worthwhile listen all the same. Hekt definitely feels like a natural fit for singer-songwriter material, in her writing and musical style that goes down smoothly despite its flavours not being particularly biting. That’s hardly much a slight against it though; it’s still self-evidently good, even if that’s primarily just within its field.
For fans of: Muncie Girls, cheerbleederz, Peaness
‘House Without A View’ by Lande Hekt is released on 23rd September on Prize Sunflower Records.
Yumi And The Weather
It’s All In My Head
Despite flying unfairly far under the radar, Yumi And The Weather’s Some Days EP felt as though it could’ve represented a real moment for them. Coming at the end of 2020 allowed it tap into a lockdown-fuelled bedroom-pop market, while affixing it with a synthpop shimmer to mitigate some of the more played-out elements of ramshackle insularity. As far as following up on that spark of inspiration with a full-length goes, It’s All In My Head isn’t really that; it’s more a move into what’ll inevitably be seen as the ‘Beabadoobee phenomenon’, should it be more commonplace, namely the act of trading out bedroom-pop for blaring indie-rock.
It’s a bit disappointing that what was such a rich creative endeavour feels effectively severed here, but It’s All In My Head is still alright regardless, particularly when viewed as a means of Ruby Taylor redressing what her project is designed to be. The less flexible boundaries don’t have to be seen as a negative when they’re held by fat swathes of guitar and bass fuzz on Imagine or Start As You Mean To Go On, even morphing into something more psychedelic and acidic on Be Your Lover, or graceful in swooning new romantic way on New Way and the title track. The synths remain too, though more as a peppering presence that can still do a bit to distinguish Taylor’s own signposted direction.
Said direction does tend to welcome comparisons to Wolf Alice—no less because It’s All In My Head pulls from similar wells of grunge, indie-rock and shoegaze-y textures—right down to Taylor’s tasteful vocal delivery that’s washed over by a formidable mix. But again, that’s not a bad thing, and it’s executed with a lot of real panache and verve to still impress among Taylor’s dalliances with her own thoughts and human impulses that make for a couple of striking lyrical moments as another elevating factor. Among indie-rock, Yumi And The Weather continue to do a lot right, now with a chameleonic streak and a knack for sticking a serious landing that’s a clear leg up. An album like this paints Taylor as an artist ready for an enormous jump up the indie ladder, one that can’t come soon enough.
For fans of: Wolf Alice, Honeyblood, Beabadoobee
‘It’s All In My Head’ by Yumi And The Weather is released on 23rd September on Miohmi Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall