Album Review: Basement – Promise Everything by Sam Brookes

The musical landscape is currently dominated by bands going on hiatus. Whilst often defined as “indefinite” or “going away for a long time”, it’s not uncommon to see the band promptly reform 18 months later. In the case of some reunited bands their return often dulls the edge of their previous work, and their new material isn’t quite up to standard, because the momentum they’d built up before their break has fizzled out.

Reunion met with universal joy

In rare cases however, a reunion is met with universal joy (as opposed to the scorn that less well-loved bands receive) and their new releases become hotly anticipated. Basement is an example of one such band. Social media exploded when the Ipswich five-piece announced they’d be returning, and following the release of a solid, if unremarkable EP, the band have finally released a full length follow up to their 2012 masterpiece colourmeinkindness. Over the 18 month break, bands such as Title Fight, Citizen, Superheaven and Turnover have taken the indie/grunge sound Basement pioneered and pushed it further. Can Promise Everything stand up to it’s predecessor’s legacy?

Yes and no. Basement have chosen to shun a clearly defined genre and have instead written an album that can only be described as a Basement sounding record. Tracks like “Promise Everything” and “Lose Your Grip” still have a grunge edge, with the bass and drums rumbling through the distorted riff, but they also contain a stronger sense of melody, both in terms of vocals and the tone of their instruments, which yet again changes up the band’s sound.

Blending different sounds into a new one

Lead singles “Oversized” and “Aquasun” however blend the different sounds of Basement’s various efforts into a new sound for the band. Oversized is a ballad played over a repeating snare/hi hat beat with a softly picked riff carrying the melody of the track. Lead singer Andrew Fisher’s vocals are more melodic and less gruff than previous tracks, which I personally don’t feel suits his voice. Aquasun on the other hand sounds like an indie anthem with a catchy rock riff and a melodic chorus that’ll be in your head for weeks. However as with colourmeinkindness, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish some of the filler from standout tracks, and with their hard grunge rock sound now somewhat diluted, it makes it even harder to care about the in-between.

Promise Everything is an excellent reminder of why so many people have remained so devoted to Basement during their hiatus. They continue to push the boundaries of an incredibly by-the-book genre. Whilst the hiatus may have taken away from their momentum (they didn’t even tour for colourmeinkindness which I believe has hurt them immeasurably), it certainly hasn’t affected their art.