The Room in The Wood – We’re The Martians, Now

photo by Mark Sant Angelo

As for most music lovers, our list of all-time favourite singles is quite extensive but one riding high is Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought to Crawl by UK new wave/post punk outfit The Room. A couple of years short of four decades later a track by former members of the band has joined that eager line-up; Charmed from The Room in The Wood recently released before the band’s new album, We’re The Martians, Now. Its success suggested a bigger release which had the potential to capture ears and imagination alike which we can now loudly declare it does with sublime ease.

Liverpool’s The Room in The Wood is at its heart vocalist Dave Jackson and guitarist Paul Cavanagh, the former a founding member of that predominately eighties band with the latter joining them the year after the release of their 1982 debut album. Uniting again as The Room in The Wood, the pair released a self-titled first album in 2018 to critical acclaim with later that year The Mars EP more than echoing its support and potency. With twelve tracks which fascinate as they seduce, of which numerous could equally demand an attention grabbing standalone release, We’re The Martians, Now is destined to command even greater praise and success, the album one of the most captivating encounters 2020 has embraced so far.

Featuring drummer Colin George Lamont (Mark Lanegan, Dave Gahan), flutist Simon James and the celestial backing vocals of Helena Jacks, The Room in The Wood immediately compelled thick attention with album opener Diamond Clouds. The band’s sound is a tapestry of flavours; new wave, post punk, dark pop, and folk nurtured hues among them and swiftly We’re The Martians, Now revels in the rich temptation it offers. The first song saunters in on a fuzz lined melody and a rhythmic skip, Jackson’s almost stoic tones quickly walking the song’s instinctive rock bred catchiness while the angelic harmonies of Jacks make for a siren like contrast to his earthier presence, both magnetic within the flames of Cavanagh’s guitar.

Never breaking its lively amble, the track is a richly rousing affair which the following Mars (Won’t Save Us) more than matches in contagion with its post punk lined virulence. Akin to a tonic made up from the essences of The Doors and Stan Ridgway, the track is part apocalyptic insight and part celebratory flirtation and one greed eagerly took to before Stowaway lured its own healthy portion of appetite with its surf washed, dark pop/rock stroll. Warm and seductive with a gorgeous crepuscular edge, the song swiftly got under the skin, its rhythmic swing gripping hips as vocals and melodies entangle the imagination.

From one majorly favourite moment to another in Blue, a similarly shadow lit seduction haunting air and  ears alike, again something of a Mr Ridgway styled hue adding additional colour to its dark kissed intimation and breath before the album sets its title track on an already lustful appetite for We’re The Martians, Now. Again Lamont’s rhythms are eager manipulation beneath the melodic caresses of guitar and Jackson’s descriptive presence, the track another which had the body swaying and attention inescapably hooked.

Across the glistening melodic radiance of Shimmer, a song with a surface which teases volatility, and the infection loaded nostalgic bounce of Fun of the Fair, The Room in The Wood just gripped the passions tighter, the second of the two especially viral in sound and effect and  living up to its title whilst provoking thoughts. Even so they still found themselves eclipsed by the aforementioned Charmed and its esurient beauty. With a great Monochrome Set spice to its melody woven intoxication and graceful harmonies, the track is splendour in a shadow drenched world, a spark and light to the darkest day.

There is a similar tinge of Bid and co to next up Dragonfly though there is as much a XTC like breath to the folk coloured song too yet as everywhere the moment of creative glamour is as distinctive to Jackson and Cavanagh as you could wish with the flute of James a romance of fluttering gossamer wings.

The final trio of the intimately earnest and acoustically bewitching Halloween Lies, the tense indie pop lined Under the Waterfall, and the sonically aflame and rhythmically bold exclamation, The Earth is Flat ensure the album never loosened its hold from start to finish. The second of the trio carries a Wonder Stuff-esque sigh to its captivation while the last of the three is a rousing almost belligerent post punk stomp reminding a touch of bands like 1919 and Gang of Four.

And that is We’re The Martians, Now, a collection of tracks which with consummate ease simply held attention and the imagination in a realm of magnificence.

We’re The Martians, Now is out May 15th via A Turntable Friend Records; available @ https://theroominthewood.bandcamp.com/ digitally, on CD, and Limited Edition Vinyl.

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Pete RingMaster 16/05/2020

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