17 Aug 2022
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Roulettes - Album Review: Demosphere

08 Sep 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

One may be able to discern from the title that the latest release from Roulettes (they dropped the “The” a while back) is taken from a series of demos and home recordings. Since forming the band in the early 2000’s there have been some additional musicians here and there, but the core has always been Justin McLean (guitars, vox, bass, piano and drum sequencing) with Ben Grant (bass, vox, drum sequencing, synths, and mixing). It is hard to understand that firstly this is the work of a duo, as it sounds like a full band, and the fact that they not only were never in the same studio together, but both recorded independently at home, one in Auckland, NZ, and one in Hanoi, Vietnam, just blows the mind.

One can imagine this album actually being released on a label such as JAM Records, as this is solid power pop with hints of psychedelia and more than the odd musical reference to the mighty Todd Rundgren, yet somehow also having an indie bent which makes it feel all that much more real. 11 songs, 32 minutes in length, this is a collection of songs where each one would work incredibly well on the radio, packed full of hooks, great vocals and harmonies. As with their last EP, there is a tribute to Andrew Brough (Straightjacket Fits) who passed away last year, as while he was Justin’s stepbrother, he was also a mentor to both Justin and Ben when they were in Funhouse. They have recorded two of his numbers in Whatever Comes To Mind and Something’s Changing, with both songs given their own treatment so that they fit in neatly with their own material.

At times they come across almost like The Beatles, at others there are hints of The Byrds, with pop numbers which sound as if they are more like passed by classics of years gone by as opposed to brand new recordings. At times there is a lo-fi element to the songs, as such as on Fading Sun, yet this is obviously a deliberate effect with riffing U2-style guitar in the background, as at others they are bright and in your face. One cannot help but play this with a smile on the face as it is music without aggression, songs which are easy to listen without ever becoming easy listening, and just so much fun. This is an album which will come to life in the summer, played on the beach, where people just want to party.

This really is a wonderful power pop album, and anyone who enjoys that genre of music will get a great deal from this.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Roulettes

Roulettes was formed by Ben and Justin in Auckland in the early 2000's from the ashes of sonic Dunedin Rock n Roll bands (Funhouse, Bike). They released two EPs (You Want It and Unread Books) before settling on Mark Queenin (Bike, Garageland) on drums and recording their debut album, The Roulettes.




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Roulettes

Releases

Demosphere
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Rocket To You
Year: 2020
Type: EP
Venus Burns
Year: 2017
Type: Album
The Roulettes
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Unread Books
Year: 2010
Type: EP
You Want It
Year: 2009
Type: EP

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