Rose Windows - Rose Windows

by Steve Reynolds Rating:5 Release Date:2015-05-04

An album released, then the band knocks it on the head. That’s what happened with Rose Windows' self-titled second album. It was recorded last autumn and at the end of March this year the band made it public that they were disbanding and all future touring was cancelled.

So what is to be made of this posthumous offering? Well, band leader and chief songwriter Chris Cheveyo continues to anchor the group, and surrounded by his eclectic bandmates, they serve up a split-mix of folk and indie-rock, complemented with shades of incandescent melancholy and soothing acoustic lines.

‘Blind’ is awash with the beautiful vocal of Rabia Shaheen Qazi. The arrangement really gives her the strength to showcase her singing talents and, for me, recalls the dulcet tones of 80s singer-songwriter Edie Brickell. ‘Strip Mall Babylon’ is much more direct, Rabia stamps her feet and stomps through. The band plays the long ball game and rise to meet her vocals with similar vigour, but it does lack a bit of passion.

This is a much inverted album, wretched with a degree of over-seriousness and hand-wringing. There seems a lack of flow and creativity, and the band come over as being slightly guarded and unwilling to let their creative juices flow. Take ‘Strip Mall Babylon’, for example, which sounds like a million other bands that meddle in this genre. Although Rabia has her charm, if you strip away her vocal you get a nothing but an uneasy plod. 

‘Aurora Avenue’ is of similar ilk, remaining both unchallenging and a chore to work through, although it's really a track destined for the quiet, dark evenings equipped with a pair of headphones. This also applies to the torch song ‘A Pleasure to Burn’, with its simple, chiming guitar, subtle percussion, and plucked acoustic strings.

‘Hirami’ closes the album, stripped back to threadbare bones. In fact, it’s devoid of any guts and feels like a band going through the motions before they call it a day.

A very disappointing way to go out and definitely not an album that will live as the band’s grand finale or ruffle the feathers of the critics in the end of year polls.

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