If this is what the new era sounds like, we’re all in for a treat.
Label: Run For Cover Records
Released: 29th January 2016
Following a particularly short-term hiatus, Basement have had a rough time of it with cynics in certain circles. But there’s no more emphatic way to silence those voices than to write the best record of their career, and that’s exactly what Basement have done here.
Listening to ‘Colourmeinkindness’, you could easily pinpoint which bands Basement were taking cues from. While a band wearing their influences on their sleeve is no bad thing, the greatest strength of ‘Promise Everything’ is just how comfortable it is in its own skin. Where that previous record seemed to go out of its way to paint on an extra coat of 90s nostalgia, the songs here are streamlined to perfection. A victory for purposeful songwriting over aesthetic; this is Basement writing a definitive Basement record, rather than Basement writing a record that just sounds ‘a bit like something else’.
That comfort leads to confidence, too. Not only have Basement crafted a sound that’s unmistakably their own for the first time, but there are moments of flair on show here that ooze with the self-assurance of a band acutely aware that they’re hitting top form.
One such moment is when ‘Aquasun’ kicks into gear. Dropping from an uncharacteristically noodly guitar intro into what’s probably the record’s most obtuse swell, it’s as bold and defiant as Basement have ever sounded. Meanwhile, the meandering vocal melodies and Andrew Fisher’s distinctly explicit cadence on ‘Hanging Around’ act as a gentle reminder as to what’s always at the band’s core: emotive, memorable songs that are almost impossibly easy to sing along to.
‘Blinded Bye’, midway through the album, also serves to show off a refined sense of self-awareness. Previously, this track would’ve gone overboard with chunky guitars and tacked-on riffs for the sake of riffs – and while successful with that in the past, the restraint shown by the band’s instrumentalists to allow Fisher’s vocals to properly lead the line does so much more for the song overall. It’s subtle, but it’s the finer details that make all the difference here.
This was a big album for Basement – bigger than they’d probably admit – and they’ve absolutely nailed it. Not only does the quality of ‘Promise Everything’ validate their return from hiatus, but as torchbearers of a scene in transition, it also serves as a much-needed example that, for them and their contemporaries, there are more options available than just buying a bunch of effects pedals and hoping for the best.
With their last full-length, Basement helped to usher in the ‘90s-revival’ sound that has reigned supreme in contemporary punk ever since. Now, with that movement starting to wear thinner than the cheaply reprinted My Bloody Valentine shirts that adorn it, Basement come with a true authenticity that might just turn the game on its head again. If this is what the new era sounds like, we’re all in for a treat. Ryan De Freitas