NGHBRS - Twenty One Rooms
Record Label: Paper + Plastick
Release Date: July 16, 2013
When hints of new NGHBRS music first hit the site, there seemed to be one word that everyone agreed described Twenty One Rooms in its entirety. Now, looking back on those posts and having spent a few weeks with the album, that word proves to hold strong throughout each listen. Whether it's the straightforward rock n' roll of opener "Hold Up Girl" (which actually ends up being a weaker taste of what's to come) or the Manchester Orchestra-esque indie-stomper "We Were Wolves", time and time again, these songs prove to have one thing in common: in the words of Jack Appleby, "Jams. All the jams."
NGHBRS does a truly incredible job of creating a consistent and cohesive debut, incorporating several apparent influences (Cold War Kids, The Dear Hunter) while giving each jam (err, song) its own identity. The upbeat "Beneath The Raging Sun" boasts an incredible vocal performance throughout until exploding into one of the heaviest and most energetic moments on the record...only to be topped seconds later by standout (and personal favorite) "Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt". It's fast paced, the closest you'll come to punk throughout Twenty One Rooms, and then it reaches a dirty and excellently executed guitar-solo climax. That's not to say these are the only songs that should represent Twenty One Rooms; genre-wise, NGHBRS are all over the map, but in the most precise way possible.
Take it from the beautifully bluesy guitar throughout the verses of "1990", which erupt into my favorite and one of the biggest choruses you'll hear on the record. While some tracks feel they serve more of a purpose of transition between bigger things, NGHBRS appear to have really grown into themselves as none of these songs feel like unnecessary parts; this is truly what an "album" should sound like. A spoken-word clip about the blues precedes the aggressively fun of "Dead Man's Reprise", followed by the dreamy whirlwind of instrumentation that drives "Screwtape" until it's strained vocal bridge wakes the track up, only to drift back asleep.
"Green River" does its best to represent Twenty One Rooms, a "sum of all parts" if you will that perfectly concludes NGHBRS' debut and leaves us with a yearning to press play again and try to better understand what the hell we just listened to. It's true, NGHBRS have released one hell of a debut (one of the best you'll hear this year) as well as a glorious collection of genre-bending jams that prove who deserves to rise to the top this summer. Readers may fight me, but with Twenty One Rooms, it appears that NGHBRS may actually be saving rock and roll...without the irony.