Hull 5-piece Bdrmm appeared from relative obscurity early in 2020, winning over crowds with an unstylised, underdog persona and a truly ethereal live show.
Bdrmm’s genesis came in the form of a demo made by Ryan Smith, in the moments before pulling a double shift at his local pub.
“I was listening to Washed Out when something inside resonated really strongly,” the frontman recalls, ‘I decided to get out my GarageBand phone-to-jack interface and wrote a demo called ‘Everything’.” The track went on to receive Radio 1 airplay, leading to the formation of the band.
This kind-of eponymous debut album commences with a statement of intent. Instrumental opener ‘Momo’ builds throughout its three and a half minute runtime, with track number two ‘Push/Pull’ omitting lyrics for almost two minutes. This is not to be a collection of singalongs but any means – rather a wall of expression.
When vocals do join the party; Smith’s expansive, reverb-heavy commentary seamlessly coalesces with Bdrmm’s lofty soundbed. With Heba Kadry [Beach House, Slowdive, Alex G] on mixing duties, there is an archaically Shoegaze feel to the album – giving the release a timeless quality.
Previously released single ‘Happy’ stands out from the pack as a catalyst for the record. Drums – which are kept to a minimum throughout the LP – have a genuine presence on tracks where they are flexed, such as ‘Happy’, ‘If’ and ‘A Reason To Celebrate’.
As ‘Happy’ bleeds into the eerily minimalist interlude ‘(The Silence)’, and subsequently its twin track ‘(Un)happy’, the track list is given a sense of narrative and colour. If ‘Happy’ is the height of the party, ‘(The Silence)’ is the slow evacuation and ‘(Un)Happy’ is the dread that follows.
Bedroom reads like a diary of early twenties angst – with naïve riffs dancing over menacing chords that loom throughout. As with the best examples of Shoegaze, each of the ten items on the track list are a vessel of pure feeling, sitting in the intersection where accessible pop meets abstract sound design.
“The subject matter spans mental health, alcohol abuse, unplanned pregnancy, drugs,” Smith has said of the release, ‘..basically every cliché topic that you could think of.’
It is this sense of sarcastic self-awareness that will carry Bdrmm onwards in a category of music that is guilty of taking itself far too seriously. Seeing the band live is an experience that is almost spiritual, and the presence of the unstylised – almost ramshackle – band members only give the occurrence a more surreal grounding in the everyday. Celestial, expansive sounds, via some lads from Hull.
There is space to argue that the album rarely steps outside of pre-drawn genre confines, with very few surprise turns in the road. Offerings such as ‘If….’, however, offer real spikes of interest, with a nod to heavier bands – such as My Bloody Valentine.
Bedroom is a worthy debut for a band who could and should become one of the most in-demand acts on the live circuit. From Hull, to somewhere altogether more otherworldly.
Tickets to watch Bdrmm can be purchased here.