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Guilty Rainbow



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Roommate is a quirky, almost lo-fi band from Chicago. Apparently it started off as the project of one Kent Lambert, who has since added a full lineup. Lambert apparently listens to a lot of LCD Soundsystem and old jazz, and the music here kind of blends the two. There are synths and strange electro sounding beats alongside mellow horns and piano riffing, while Lambert's voice is mixed clear and high, a white guy singing catchy soul music. It's an interesting mix, and i think that Roommate manages to pull it off, for the most part.

Guilty Rainbow is apparently the bands third full-length record, but it is my introduction to them. The thing is, the lead song, My Bad sounds really familiar to me. It is one of those rare songs that the first time i heard it the lyrics already seemed familiar, specifically when Lambert sings "Jesus save the Jesus freaks" on the chorus. That phrase sounds familiar to me, but Google doesn't return any hits as to why it seems so familiar to me. Is Kent Lambert reading my mind? If so, knock it off!

Anyway, the song My Bad is a pretty slow affair, Lambert singing over a deep organ groove and a clicking drum machine. On the chorus, he talks dispassionately over a Vangelis like synth drone. It's a pretty good song, although it is not the best tune on the record.

I think that honor goes to Snow Globe, which starts with a light drum beat and some kind of keyboardish flute sample, but grows slowly into a hugely epic sound, with sci-fi keyboards making a nice drone under Lambert's arching voice, a funky bass riff, and some mournful horns. Something in the way he is singing here reminds me of the way American Dream were live, which they never managed to capture on record, sadly enough. Roommate also do this kind of epic sound rather well on Smothered in Hugs, where a female voice is added to the mix for extra harmony goodness.

Also of note is the electropop of August Song, where guitars chime, beats crunch, and strings saw faintly under Lambert's heavily distorted vocals as he channels Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound project. Not epic, but lovely nonetheless. And on the other hand we have Soft Eyes, where Lambert sings a lovely pop melody alongside guitar and piano, until the last third where the guitarist decides, suddenly, to channel My Bloody Valentine, and the pop tune gets swallowed in guitar noise. Lambert keeps singing his nice melody as the guitar grinds away, which is a really cool effect.

One final song i want to mention is Flicker Flame, where the main instrument is an organ chiming away under Lambert's echoing voice. This reminds me of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, but the band add in some nice horns and strings.

Overall, this is a catchy record with a lot going on. Roommate blend together a lot of sounds that i have been enjoying lately and mix them is slightly different ways. There is a general party-ish vibe to the record, but it is not quite dance music, more like fun music for hanging out with your friends. Good stuff.

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