Thursday, 4 September 2008

ALBUM: Rolo Tomassi – Hysterics (Hassle Records)

Photo by: Tom Barnes

I want to be Eva Spence. I want to be fronting a band as awesome as Rolo Tomassi. I want to scream like that. I want to make an album as outstanding on first listen. I only want to hear Rolo Tomassi for the rest of my life. Hmm, maybe I should calm down a bit. The thing is though; I’ve been looking forward to this album for months. Ever since I saw them play to a room half full of bored teens sitting on the floor texting their boyfriends, I fell in love. So what if I – a short fashionably retarded girl, and some frankly quite terrifying looking boys were the only ones enjoying ourselves? So what they only played for 25 minutes, so what if everyone else hated them? I adored them, and made a mental countdown as soon as it was mentioned that their debut would drop sometime in September.

And here I am, going over and over in my head what words I can use to properly convey to you how goddamn awesome this album is. I’m actually finding it exceedingly difficult to think of any, but I’ll try either way. From the opener ‘Oh, Hello Ghost’ to the utterly fantastic ‘I Love Turbulence’, the addictive jazzy, screamy-squelchy noise-core tone is set, and sets a level so inhumanely high, it’s almost impossible for the rest of the album to deliver. It manages.
‘Abraxas’ is a jaggy masterpiece of a synth and a scream, epitomising Rolo Tomassi’s freakishly addictive charm in 2 minutes and 26 seconds. Instrument torture and abuse has never sounded so sweet. ‘Nine’ is just as good, with a beginning that sounds like the violent explosion of musically talented, angsty dwarfs, progressing into a relaxed slur of amazement, and follow up ‘Macabre Charade’ follows up in a similar way, only to excel in leaps and bounds, ticking all the right boxes of what a good record should be.

‘Trojan Measures’ insinuates more instrument violence, and at just one minute, it packs more than just your average punch, and with a scream and a kick in the teeth it’s over, like blackmail on Love Hearts. ‘Everything Went Grey’ starts as its title suggests, dark and gloomy, yet inspiring an overwhelming anticipation in the listener. At 3 and a half minutes, it’s one of the longest on the album (the fourteen minute Fantasia doesn’t count, you see!), and acts as a transition to the penultimate ‘Scars’ – a whirlwind attack of frantic riffs and pure genius. If the mind was blown to smithereens by ‘Scars’, then ‘Fantasia’ is the apocalypse in its disturbingly hazardous form.

Creeping up, the dark undertone of ‘Fantasia’ is unnerving, slowly descending into turmoil before being abruptly ignited with a detonation of yells, roars, and anything slightly catastrophic twisted into a musical output. Switching into jazz and soothing vocals, it’s not long before Rolo Tomassi’s wall of sound breaks free once again and shatters all expectations of this young band from Sheffield.

Albums like this should come with a warning sign - because it’s not long before Rolo Tomassi take swiftly over as your ultimate favourite band. You’ve been warned.

Olivia Jaremi