Bedroom Walls - I Saw You Coming Back To Me (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bedroom Walls

I Saw You Coming Back To Me (2003)

Giant Pets

Romanticore. The band invented the term for themselves, defining their genre only with examples of melancholy situations and things such as "staring at the ceiling," "sedatives," and "knowing your ex-girlfriend is happier now." They also once stated to the press that "we just want to make people sad." Well, it's not working, not for me. It's too good to make me sad.

Mellow they are indeed. Slow - only sometimes. Sad - maybe lyrically a little, but emo, in the current definition of the term, they surely are not. They do not play glorified pop-punk with over-dramatic lyrics, and there are no pseudo-hardcore breakdowns or screaming here - just sparse but well-orchestrated music. The closest comparisons I could draw for the overall sound would be the Velvet Underground's self-titled album, Nico's Chelsea Girl, and early Elliott Smith. Bedroom Wall's music is usually hushed, but the pop tendencies are in there, sometimes more buried then others. The music is often just instrumental, sometimes as spare as a lone guitar playing clean channel arpeggios with some tremolo for good measure, but sometimes they fill more space with glockenspiel, timpani, or drumset, keys and even trumpets. When there are vocals, they are soft but not whispered by male and female members of the band. Fans of oft-mellow, oft-slow bands like Low, Belle And Sebastien, Yo La Tengo, and Death Cab will probably also enjoy this stuff.

Opener "Do The Buildings And Cops Make You Smile?" is a simple, swaying 6/8 tune with brushed drums, light electric guitar and tasteful organ, and a melody that climbs upward as the dynamics build. It's a well-written song that's never over-bearing but draws you in anyway; it sets the tone for the rest of the album. "I've Been Thinking A Lot About Dots On The Wall" is my favorite track, making good use of the male/female vocal duo, and with lyrics that seem sad a bit on the surface but are a bit too funny; "Magazines / Lima beans / Wear the same pair of dirty jeans." They dig funny titles too, giving an exclamatory title ("Landlord! Watch! Coffin! Angels!") to yet another pretty slow, laid back tune.

This album is kind of like a Wes Anderson film, or "Lost in Translation;" it's a dark comedy…it's funny in a sad way. But really it's not that sad, except maybe to those unable to accept anything that doesn't have a double-time drum beat. I still don't know fully what romanticore means exactly, but if it sounds like these guys think, I like it.