Written by: Dave Cantrell
Music fans can be greedy and demanding, can’t we? We hover over our obsessions – called ‘bands’ or ‘artists’ or ‘records’ in the objective world – as if we own them, displaying behaviors in the name of love that, if transferred to the realm of human interaction, would result in restraining orders. What it often leads to is a jittery, snapping impatience not unlike that of a cocaine binge where whatever euphoria experienced at the outset is entirely replaced by the need for more. Thus it was with New Politicians’ Remission LP from 2015. A strong and immediate enough of a debut to instantly land New Pols on our next NEXT list (our most popular, btw), I don’t think I was alone in silently pressing the band for a follow-up – no matter what length or format – even before “The Idealist,” Remission‘s final track, had a chance to wind its way fully down its suitably moody path.
It’s been a long couple years, in short, but relief at last is upon us in the form of this Room 101 EP, five jones-satisfying cuts that, umm, cut a sharp swath across the spectrum of expectation that that full-length (and its two predecessor EPs) so blithely created. Starting with the bright precise clamor of “Disarmer” that, at the risk of sounding too flippant, makes one wish that this was the direction U2’s early promise had pointed them toward – imagine, an insistent nimble love song full of dark yearning and vulnerability without a hint of the grandiose – moving through the multi-entendred “Newspeak” that rides a chiming, Church-like progression which manages, as it winds the personal through the political, to be both slyly allusive and direct, to the starker, more deliberate and less forgiving “Darkhorse,” John Michael Comninel’s bass doing subtle somersaults through deftly punched drum strikes (V Paul Janbazian), glassine shards of guitar – Gian Cortese – and singer Renal Anthony’s vocals limning a line between desperate angry and plaintive, it’s clear these guys from Centerville NJ had a plan with this EP: To lure us in with a first track that’s almost chipper in its irresistibility and then, knowing we’d be hooked and helpless, drive us into darker realms. Reflected not only in the evolving tone and its likely intent but as well the simple fact that each track is lengthier than the last, it may be manipulation in a way but not the kind a single one of us will mind.
Finishing off first with the dramatic, unstinting “Pyromantic” that would seem to have as its remit the teasing and re-purposing of an epic narrative form until, with clenched teeth, it fits inside this Twitter-pated world before the game-changing, slow build and sad release of the title track, hypnotic and not a little devastating, this EP, hopefully a prelude to a second LP proper (but of course I’d say that), reminds in its poignancy and command, in its passion distilled by an unsentimental – but still ever-humane – perception, of the dearly missed In Letter Form, and anyone that knows me knows there couldn’t be a more generous comparison. I’m more than happy to say that it’s praise well-deserved. [Room 101 EP available from iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay and all your favorite groovy outlets]