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Album Review: Rolo Tomassi - Hysterics

Rolo Tomassi broke into the rock world kicking and screaming in a blaze of guttural roars. Their style is complex, with accents of lounge jazz, screamo and synths, so it’s not surprising that the ‘spazzcore’ genre was proclaimed as theirs. With such a young band it is surprising to see such avid followers already proclaiming that their sound is so fresh and original that they most certainly must be the next big thing. Their progressive and intelligent music much overshadows their youth with maturity beyond their years within their debut album ‘Hysterics’. They’ve come a long way since the days of their EP. It is also interesting to note that none of the tracks from the EP, even the blinding synth-driven fury of ‘Film Noir’, are featured on the album.

This is the marmite of music, there is no sitting on the fence with Rolo Tomassi, you either love their convulsive, visceral style or absolutely loathe it. More recently they have been placed on a high profile tour with the ferocious Bronx, which makes being in the latter camp even harder to take.

The album begins with ‘Oh, Hello Ghost’, which is a tantalisingly enigmatic beginning to what will reveal itself to be a crazy, welded hyper genre assault on the ears. It begins with quiet, almost whispered vocals that build into an astonishing roar in which singer Eva Spence releases her shrieking acerbic vocals. It immediately shows a different dimension to the band, a wise first track choice to ease the unsure listeners into this fiery album.

On tracks such as ‘Fofteen’ and ‘Abraxas’ Eva truly shows off her growling skills, which seems incredible when listening to ‘Macabre Charade’ in which she sings rather than screams. This is not to say that Rolo Tomassi have diluted their sound, quite the opposite. It brings a great contrast to the screams, making them seem even more impressive when unleashed. Again in ‘I Love Turbulence’ she changes in a split second from her roars to angelic singing, demonstrating her vast vocal versatility. Rolo Tomassi most definitely have style, which is demonstrated when’ Scabs’ rolls onto the album with a certain swagger.

Their live shows are a sight to behold, brimming with even more of the crazy youthful energy that the album contains. Many are stunned that the ear melting vocals of the album emerge from the mouth of the sweet looking 18 year old Eva, and they would most certainly not believe you that these vocals are hers unless they had witnessed it for themselves.

The album is far from easy listening, many have compared listening to Rolo Tomassi as like riding a rollercoaster, there are so many twists and turns of pace and riffs which give way to Horse The Band-esque synths and Dillinger style vocals. The effort required to listen and try to delve into their sound and actually understand and enjoy it is terminally draining. It is the most volatile of relationships. The balance between the pure unadulterated noise and atmospheric breaks is not quite perfect but this is an album which shows a huge display of talent and promise. Many may proclaim it as album of the year, but I believe given time, Rolo Tomassi could release their true masterpiece.


Selina Christoforou

Alter The Press!