Guilty Rainbow

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On their third album, Roommate continue in their semi-blissed out, semi-art-pop way, with everything from electronic squelches and crisp beats to stately, reflective singing on the opening "My Bad," opining that "Jesus saves the Jesus freaks," but that might be the limit of it. (Then there's also the way the title is referenced via the concluding chorale of "Mea culpa," leading one to reflect what Caesar might have been like if he were a 21st century bro.) The album is generally of a piece in this overall regard, with recombinations of everything from hints of steel guitar and steady space rock/disco progression through to soft singalongs. But a careful tension exists throughout the album, something where everything seems on the verge of fraying, from structure to sentiment; there's a genteel, suffused sonic air that makes everything seem sunny, but the sentiments and sounds are often anything but -- guitars as nervous scrapes, deep-voiced murmurs and moans, lyrics that betray confusion and unsureness, even as everything grooves along. It's a little much to call it Steely Dan in terms of contrast but there's something not too far removed going on. "The Country with a Smile" is one of the most easygoing pieces on the album, feeling very much of a late-'70s type in its steady groove and Wurlitzer and Mellotron keyboards, though the intrusion of strange background textures once again prevents a relaxed listen. "Snow Globe" is similarly on the calmer tip as well, at least on the surface, though the breaks with echoed, wordless vocals and lyrics like "Filthy windows/Go on and pretend that you can see" indicate the darker undertow still present, even as the song suddenly swirls up to a triumphant-sounding conclusion. (There's also something very knowing in creating a song so seemingly given over to blissy feelings sonically to be called "LDS" rather than "LSD," and to specifically reference the Antichrist at that.)

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