Basement - I Wish I Could Stay Here (Cover Artwork)


I Wish I Could Stay Here (2011)

Run for Cover

It would be really easy to call Basement the UK Title Fight. They've toured with Title Fight in the UK, they've put out records on the same label, and their respective sounds are rooted in the same late '90s/early '00s east coast melodic hardcore/pop-punk/emo vibe that seems to be re-blossoming these days. However, with these surface similarities, on this, their debut full-length, Basement has separated themselves from the pack and in many ways positioned themselves at the top of the heap of bands playing this style.

While working squarely within the confines of their genre, what really separates this band from the rest is the way they manage to use simplicity effectively. The songs aren't too complex, containing straightforward guitar parts and simple melodies in the vocals. That said, it is the vocals that are the band's best attributes. Vocalist Andrew Fisher pairs direct lyrics with unusually tasteful melodies that work well to effectuate the emotional intent of the song. For instance, in the sparse opening to "Earl Grey", it takes Fisher over a minute to get through the lines "I looked up at your window, and pretended I could see you. You don't live there anymore." This approach takes lyrics that, at first glance, could seem generic and trite, and instead wrings the maximum amount of emotional pull out of them. On top of that, Fisher is 99% perfect in pitch and tone, something that definitely cannot be said for many of the band's U.S. contemporaries.

However, with all of the positives, there are few downsides with this release. Most notably is the snare drum sound, which on the slower parts sounds more like an old tom, rather than having the crisp bite a snare should have. Initially I found it so distracting I thought that I would never get over it, but the quality of the rest of the release finally overshadowed it. Second is the instrumental track, "Ellipses", which I could have done without, or at least tacked on at the end. It's not bad really–it's just that when the vocals are so good, it seems like a waste to have nearly four minutes of just instruments go by.

What is perhaps most surprising (at least to me) about this release, is that it came out of nowhere. True, the band had a moderately well-received EP, but I found it wholly subpar, and even now, after being a convert with this record, I still don't find the EP to be all that interesting or to even show any indication of what the band was ultimately capable of.

Containing heartfelt emotional moments with a tasteful approach to the modern punk-emo sound, I Wish I Could Stay Here is the surprise record of the year for me. I would expect to see this on more than one year-end list this year.