[13 August 2014]
Roses is a Los Angeles trio notable for the fact that it features Abe Vigoda’s Juan Velasquez on guitar. Now, a word of caution: Roses is about as far away from Abe Vigoda as Kayne West is from Mozart. Roses is the type of outfit that mines a very ‘80s synth pop sensibility. Think of Morrissey singing with the Cure, and that might give you just an inkling of this group’s signature style. So what can be said about Roses? Well, based on this EP, their material is fairly strong. Opening cut “Florence Girls” has a hooky synth squiggle, motorik electronic drum sound and a sharp, ringing guitar riff. “Icicle” is another chilly one, but with a warm, beach-esque reliance on solid guitar work that rings out with youthful abandon. “It’s Over”, which – wink, wink, nudge, nudge – ends the disc, finishes things on an upbeat, jaunty note that veers just a little bit (but not too much) into Talking Heads territory. And “The Fog” cuts a clear path like a razor slicing a path, a way back to a simpler time three decades ago when musicians wore headbands and spandex, complete with keyboards that got pillaged from a Cars song.
This all said, the Dreamlove EP is one big tease of 15 minutes of delectable retro music. It feels a bit short – well, duh, it’s an EP – but the material is engaging and interesting enough that you want to know where the band goes from here. The EP is the sort of thing that doesn’t spare cries of reinvention of the dream pop genre; however, it is well done and built like a brick house. The nods to British new wave and alternative rock are particularly moving, and a great deal of strength lies in the vocal performance. I hear a bit of the Sundays in the ringing guitar tones, and a bit of Johnny Marr. Roses effectively put a few influences into a bag and mix it all up. There’s a real sense of familiarity to the material, but it intriguingly charts its own course, too. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes next, but the Dreamlover EP is, well, quite dreamy and is something to appraise fairly highly.