Updated: May 4
To The Band:
I appreciate the title of this album, Endless Rooms. As I sit at my desk writing the review, I cannot help but think of Hermann Hesse. In Steppenwolf, the protagonist finds himself in the Magic Theatre, where he experiences the fantasies that exist in his thoughts. Because of the connection I am making, Endless Rooms is being held to a very high standard.
Endless Rooms begins with the song “Pearl Like You.” Although I liked the short instrumental introduction, I was unsure what kind of album I was in for. Is it setting a mood, or am I in the elevator of the Magic Theatre, trying to get to my floor? “Tidal River” answers that question; I was only in the waiting room.
Ok, I think. We are in for a retro 80’s pop dance-punk album. RBCF (Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever) is looking for radio play. When “The Way It Shatters” starts, I felt I was on point. The third song is catchy and probably my favorite. Although I cannot say who it sounded like, I was aware that was because there wasn’t anything that made it stand out. It made me feel like the band wants to get mainstream play but does not want to make waves.
“Caught Low” is another solid song. I notice that the album is slowing down a bit. Less punk, more alt-rock.
When “My Echo” starts, my head starts bobbing again. The echo in the title, in the song, and overall throughout the album makes me think that the Endless Rooms are not infinite in number but grandiose in size. Because of the little bridge that starts at 2:10 and goes to 2:25, this is my second favorite song because it is a unique moment in the album.
I was excited when I saw the name “Dive Deep” and then heard the introduction. Especially after that 15-second digression in “My Echo.” I thought, what are they going to do here? In fact, for my first-listen notes, I wrote, “This song got my interest as soon as it started.” But I heard a song that fit in with the rest of the album. In fact, if it is a room and I am looking around, I can see that it was decorated by the same interior designer. It fits, but I wanted more.
"Open Up Your Window” sounded a little different from the rest of the album. Some of the guitar work reminded me of my jamband days, and it was nice. However, I kept getting “Emotional Haircut” from LCD Soundsystem stuck in my head. You know, “Out of the window and onto the streets/out of the window/out to the/out to,” followed by true moshing dance music. Sorry. That was a digression.
Then the sound “Blue Eye Lake” takes me back to the front of the album. My first-listen note: Are they settling into a sound and a style? Ok, if I am sharing that, I have to share why I wrote that. I was trying to figure out what RBCF wanted from me. What am I supposed to think or focus on as a listener? It felt like “Blue Eye Lake” was settling into a specific mood. However, I was still unable to say what I felt.
“Saw You At The Eastern Beach” has interesting moments. Kinda made me think about REM. I cannot precisely say why. Maybe the vocals. “Vanishing Dots,” guitar-heavy. I wanted “Endless Rooms” to really stand out or bring the entire album together, yet I had a hard time connecting with it.
Sometimes, when I get to the last song, it feels like it is the album’s final song. “Bounce Off The Bottom” felt like that for some reason. Maybe because it immediately followed the dramatic “Endless Rooms,” and it pulls together the album. It gives Endless Rooms a conclusion.
Back to the Band:
I remember the first time I wrote what I am going to say. It was while reviewing Twenty One Pilots Trench. Given brief moments of unique exploration, this album kept pulling back to safe territory. That is ok. There is nothing wrong with that. However, I am greedy. I love smart music that pushes the boundaries. So, while you have given me a solid album, I do not feel like you gave me what you were selling in the write-up. In a year with bands bringing their all and stepping outside of their comfort zone, with a title like Endless Rooms and all you could have done with that, I feel you played it a little too safe. I hope you do not take this as a harsh critique but as a challenge. Explore some of those unique moments and stretch them out. See where you go. The Magic Theatre was anything you could imagine, and Endless Rooms should be infinite in quantity, quality, style, and size. You gave me one very large room with a couple of oversized closets. Interesting, but not all I believe it could have been.
Favorite Songs: “The Way It Shatters,” “My Echo,” and “Pearl Like You” because it was so very different.
Rating - 3.5/5