Before listening to this album, I got distracted by a fixation on the band’s name. Let’s face it, ‘Doomsquad’ is something even most school kids in their Year 10 rock bands would reject as a load of shite before setting on ‘Nil by Mouth’, for example. I was almost certainly never in a band called Nil by Mouth in Year 10…
Anyway, there is definitely a sense of doom on this album. It’s not an eerie medieval doom, with mist lapping around clifftop gravestones in high contrast black and white. It’s something altogether more modern. In fact, at the start of ‘Let yourself be seen’, the band paint a pretty depressing picture of the modern world. A modern divided world that educated, urban, privileged Western Europeans and North Americans, at least, aren’t enjoying that much at the moment.
Doomsquad seem to be campaigning for some sort of freedom. However, it’s unclear what exactly. Freedom of expression sure, but what or who are they for and against? ‘General Hum’ rails against all sorts – autism, conservatism, Instagramism.
‘Spandrel’ sounds like a breed of some kind of small, glittery, elastic dog. I love the word. There’s not much to be said, however, for these two short instrumental snippets.
On ‘Aimless’ they tell us they’re “not playing by your rules”. Take that, establishment!
“What are you so afraid of?” they question and attempt to challenge the listener throughout. I can only feel this question goes into the echo chamber. Donald Trump isn’t listening, guys.
From ‘Dorian’s Closet’ onwards, things improve. At its peaks you could imagine they’re the best tunes that Leftfield, Orbital, or Underworld never made.
That considered, there’s a surprising amount of guitar going on. ‘Let It Go’ could almost be an Santana solo, albeit less polished. Even more surprising is the flute. It begins in the background on ‘Emma’ before getting everywhere later in the album.
I’m surprised again by ‘Dorian’s Closet’, this time at how catchy it is. I woke up with it in my head this morning having not listened to it for a couple of days. The melody is out and proud and living its best life. By contrast, the awkwardness experienced by the struggle of coming out of said closet is captured expertly by the music. Having said that, adding Dorian in to the closet metaphor mix makes things altogether confusing. The song is over before I’ve fully grasped the meaning.
‘Let Yourself Be Seen’ couldn’t be simpler but, as they say, it’s often the best approach. It’s a call to arms for ‘all the freaks to come out’ with an infectious beat.
They also say ‘save the best ‘til last’. And Doomsquad certainly have. ‘Weather Patterns’ has all of the best bits and the repeated features from the album. The flute, the “what are you so afraid of?”, the bass and beats. They even throw in a sub-Cocker monologue for good measure:
“I’m really easy to get along with,
I’m really easy to understand.
I like the same things you do,
Would you like to be my friend?”
I think I want to, but I’m not sure. I’ve been listening to this album on and off for four weeks now and I still haven’t made my mind up. I think I’m carrying on in the hope that I’ll find something in there. Something to really love. Something to get a hold of. It’s just I’m not sure what that something is and if I’ll ever find it from listening to the album again and again. For me, it’s a ‘must try harder’ if they truly want to let themselves be seen.
Words by James Spearing