Music Reviews

Rumskib Rumskib

(Darla) Rating - 8/10

Ah, dream-pop. No other genre or sub-genre can lay claim to a longer list of adjectives. Hypnotic, ethereal, soothing, lush, hazy, atmospheric... I could go on, but if I used the full complement now I'd almost certainly struggle later on in my review.

If it was possible to audit thesaurus use in music criticism, the results would surely confirm that dream-pop - and its partner in noise, shoegaze - have critics hitting their shift and F7 buttons (come on, don't tell me you don't use that one occasionally) more often than any other branch of modern popular music. Perhaps it's because the music's been written about to death? This is possible - My Bloody Valentine's landmark Loveless has spawned nearly as many essays as it has impersonators - but it kind of renders my job redundant. A more palatable argument would be that in lieu of decipherable vocals the critic is forced to concentrate on the instrumentation of the song and, more appropriately, the sound. I could buy that, but maybe the answer's simpler still: we love this music and the challenge of describing it. Yeah, I'll go with that one.

Rumskib is Denmark's most significant contribution to the ongoing dream-pop revival and this, the band's first full length record, is out now on Darla. No Ripcord regulars may remember the shimmering Springtime from our April podcast (if you don't, you probably didn't hear it) and as Rumskib proves from the off, that inspired track was no fluke.

The action starts with Hearts on Fire, the perfect introduction to the band's trademark sound. The rhythms are fragmented yet lively, the guitars alternately jagged and euphoric, and the vocals suitably breathy and soothing. Our old friend Springtime follows, bringing to mind the work of Lush at its best. It's a great pop song, buried beneath a comforting layer of blissed out noise. Where Are the Flowers provides a spiky, almost jarring diversion and Ferris Wheel Blackout and You're My Japan are an ambient, atmospheric instrumentals but for the most part Rumskib is an album of well concealed pop gems that recall some of the genres heavyweight performers, such as My Bloody Valentine (Sneak) and the Cocteau Twins (well, take your pick). This, of course, is never a bad thing.

Rumskib stands shoulder to shoulder with other recent successes in the field, the most notable of which has to be A Sunny Day In Glasgow's outstanding Scribble Mural Comic Journal, and in a just world this excellent Danish band will be in contention when the critics put their thesauruses to one side and attend to the simpler task of making their end of year lists. I know it'll be on mine. That gives me seven months to dig out some new adjectives.