Manchester-based The Room 1985 trio included Sam Stone (vocals/bass), Chris Crysand (guitars/synths) and John Hulse (drums/programming). They mix electronica with various rock genres and a chunk of psychedelia thrown in. Their self-titled debut came out in 2017 and they follow that up now with The Bliss, if you imagine Floyd all synthesised up and performed by Dépêche Mode, you’ll be close to their overall sound. Not surprisingly there is a theme, rather than concept, running through this latest release…it is another (anti) social media campaign and goes a little left field as aliens invade the earth…yes, really! There are a lot of spoken lyrics – they even draft in guests (Emily Oldfield, Moi Saint and Vickie Harley to help out) and extracts from recorded voices but, when Sam sings he has power and melody, which fits perfectly with the music.
Lead track, ‘Daylight’ gives a good sense of what is to come with the whispered voices backed by brooding synth building up to prog sounding keys punctuated by guitar. The title track has a phased voice sounding a bit like a call to prayer and becomes a little repetitive, but has an entertaining guitar solo halfway. ‘Ishtar’ is the best one here with metal guitar patterns around a spoken female voice, the guitar then goes a bit The Edge like but redeems itself with a class solo around the 3-minute mark. ‘The Arrival’ starts in true heavy metal style before the synths cut in and Vickie Harley joins the fray with her operatic voice: a bit incongruous, but as the song is about the aliens arriving who am I to say incongruous?! It finishes with the 8-minute plus epic, ‘Awake’ which has its heavy moments but ends up confused as it trades spoken commentary and space-rock keys with the metal approach. It does have another entertaining guitar solo to distinguish it, and the band, from similar cross-genre artists out there.
So if you like electronic music with a bit of Floyd, Depeche Mode and U2 thrown in you will like this. It actually becomes more accessible the more you listen to it and, although it won’t be played often, it won’t be deleted either. Worth a try to expand your musical horizons.