New Politicians are a four-piece group coming out of New Jersey. The band’s new EP ‘Room 101’ came out June 21st through iTunes, Bandcamp and Spotify and it is definitely an eclectic listening experience. The first track and lead single from the EP, ‘Disarmer’ was a good choice as the introductory track. I really liked the mix, immediately you have this wickedly punchy kick that just cuts through the sound and the guitar instrumentals are very solid. There is a point around 2:29 where the effects on the guitar needed to be toned back, too much reverb is like too much ketchup, it ruins a steak dinner, that being said, this is still one of the best tracks on the EP.
The second track, ‘Newspeak’ takes a totally different approach, I dug the sound design in the opening, radio static and channel flipping. Then having the drums introduce with the band filter over them was cool, a lot of care went into that. Then it opens up into this lush, beautifully put together guitar line, the main hook sounds like a love letter to Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ and it just drives it forward. The vocals fit much better here than anywhere else and I love the touches of harmony, there’s a sense that this track had a lot more time invested into its structure and it comes out in the aesthetic. This is my favourite track on the record without question, John Michael Comninel and V Paul Janbazian absolutely knock this one out of the park as a rhythm section. They’ve got a really solid groove and they balance the guitar riff phenomenally – seriously, well done. If this was the sound they’d focused on for the whole EP it would have been excellent.
Track number three, ‘Darkhorse’ is where ‘Room 101’ really starts to devolve, as far as a cohesive listening experience goes. The sentiment is very teenage-centric, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but track three lays it on really thick. Lines repeatedly referencing “the obituary” and “you’ll know where to find me, underneath your hatred” sound like something taken out of an old-school MCR lyric, but with none of the attached campiness or fun, it’s played completely straight.
The final two tracks are probably the worst offenders for very sparse but “deep and meaningful” vocals. Not every vocal has to be a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but ‘Pyromantic’ has to be my least favourite delivery from Renal Anthony Patetta, he just sounds bored and the instrumental starts with so much energy that it has nowhere to go. The vocals here are just a bad fit, rhyming “fire” and “pyre” over and over gets tedious quickly over a five-and-a-half-minute track.
As for the title track and last track on this EP, ‘Room 101’ it just doesn’t know when to end. Again, I really like the sound design, the retrograde guitar in the opening sounds awesome, really gives it a little more identity. It gets overly indulgent in the end, there was no reason to have the riff repeat with the acoustic guitar, it added nothing it felt like a creative afterthought. My big gripe with the EP is that New Politicians just don’t sound like they know what they want to sound like, which is a problem when you’re creating a well-rounded listening experience.
If you can deal with fluctuating aesthetics and can see the charm in stuff like Placebo’s ‘Meds’ from 2006, you might find something you’ll like a lot here. Solid 2.5 to a light 3 stars, some wicked instrumentals, decent mixing, needs more solid ideas.