The Room

In Evil Hour/Clear!

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Compiling the Room's second album and an earlier EP, In Evil Hour/Clear! is a fine addendum to the No Dream best-of also released by LTM earlier in 2004. By the time of In Evil Hour the Room had hit upon the blend of rushed passion and inspired playing that made them perhaps the great also-ran band in early-'80s U.K. post-punk terms; it's little surprise that the album begins in spectacular fashion with "A Shirt of Fire," Dave Jackson's strong, keening voice swooping across the energetic jump-and-chime of the band. Paul Cavanagh isn't necessarily a unique guitarist but he's a solid one with individual flair showing in brief solos and trills that add depth without becoming pointless exercises (check the great breaks on "The Friendly Enemy," one of the standout tracks all through). At his best he achieves moments of multi-tracked richness that compares favorably to Will Sergeant and Robin Guthrie's work. Slower songs like "Naive" and the amiable waltz of "Crying Red" give keyboardist Peter Baker a chance to stand out as well, adding a bit of psychedelic glaze to the proceedings without the band sounding like a mere revival prospect. With production split between John Rivers and Tom Verlaine, the latter's work in Television definitely being a spiritual forebear to much of the album's sound, the result is a fine, overlooked gem. The Clear! EP is a somewhat different kettle of fish, recorded during the previous year as part of a slight attempt to get more of a lush jazz/pop focus -- a bit like Everything But the Girl in a way, though songs like "Numb" have more brawling parts to them, while "The Ride" is a full-on Kraftwerk/motorik tribute. It's a nice diversion with some strong moments, but In Evil Hour is the better effort. LTM, in keeping with its general practice, adds more songs to the reissue, including two In Evil Hour outtakes -- "In My Evil Hour" and "Run Like a Bastard" -- as well as the single mix of the lovely "New Dreams for Old," including a guest trumpeter.

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