I tend to think of the 80s as a musical decade I skip over. With its annoying, compressed-to-hell snare drum sound and its cheesy, huge, rock ballads, it seems like a decade in between the warmth and rawness of the 70s and the angst and fuzz of the 90s. But, I often forget that good things come from every decade. Bands like The Cure, Joy Division, and Dinosaur Jr. were all active in the 80s. And, bands like Rose Ette help me remember that the 80s isn’t all bad.
Houston, TX, is not a city I think would be home to such incredible independent music. Yet, the members of Rose Ette managed to craft a near perfect record in the scorching Texas summers. Despite it’s jangly, Sarah Records-esque guitar tones, the melodies on Rose Ette’s newest record, Ignore The Feeling, feel firmly rooted in the 80s. Led by singer and guitarist Teresa Vicinanza, Rose Ette has together crafted a perfect slice of pop heaven.
Opener “All The Way” is a three-minute onslaught of melody. Great writers know how to make every note in a song function to create an atmosphere or a cinematic vision. In our introduction to this record, the members of Rose Ette waste nothing. The hint of chorus on the guitar leads and the matter-of-factness of Vicinanza’s vocals help this to sound like exactly what would be playing when the two main characters in an 80s high-school rom com finally see each other in a new light from across the room.
“Skin” opens with a walking guitar lead and another irresistible ride-cymbal groove. At about the two and a half minute mark, the rest of the band fades except for the guitar chords. Then, the band comes back in for a brilliant, upbeat outro. “Ignore the Feeling” is a mid-tempo, dreamy number. The rhythm guitar is steeped in chorus, and the vocal melodies are haunting and gorgeous. The greatest moment in the song is just after the second chorus when some screeching feedback swells into a fuzzed-out, meticulously catchy solo carries the song to its abrupt end.
After the title track ends abruptly, “Mask” comes in with a driving drumbeat and a perfectly crafted guitar lead. “Mask” is one of those songs where everything just fits perfectly. Not every band can write a song where nothing feels out of place. But, the members of Rose Ette make it looks so effortless. Vicinanza’s lyrics also recount the manipulation and lies that can occur in romance. She sings, “You hide behind the mask you made for me / You made it for me / A long time ago / But now I peel it back and see the picture / not the actor / you think that you are.” It’s a perfect condemnation of people who fail to reveal their true identity or hold back destructive tendencies in a relationship. It’s also poignant for these lyrics to be surrounded by some of the most gorgeous music on the record.
“So Close” starts off with a minor chord, differentiating it from its brighter, major-key predecessors. Starting off with a jagged guitar line in the style of The Pixies, the tune soon launches into a jangly pop groove. The vocal melodies of this song sound lifted straight out of 80s mainstream pop: Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, or even Belinda Carlisle. Surrounding these sugary sweet melodies with desperate Fender guitar tones, Rose Ette manage to capture an emotion that is somewhere between excitement and dread. Vicinanza sings, “I can’t believe what I’ve fallen for.” It’s the perfect description of that overwhelming feeling in any relationship where one stops and thinks “now, just what have I gotten myself into?” Rose Ette is full of pure pop geniuses.
“Mirrors” is the longest song on this record, at 4:04. It’s a little slower and more understated than its counterparts, but not lacking in the same catchiness or lushness that has imbued this whole record so far. And it’s a welcome break after the frantic and unrelenting “So Close.” However, there is still a danceable groove running through the song, particular after the 30-second mark when the band really gets into the groove. The next song, “Never Gonna Get It,” is another venture in perfectly executed indie pop. Built around a simple chord progression, it’s another jangly reminder that Rose Ette know how to write effective, engrossing melodies.
“Awake” sounds more like the 90s than perhaps the rest of the record. Starting off with a fuzzed out bass and drum groove, the songs straightforward, relentless groove recalls the poppier side of bands like Sleater Kinney. “Predator,” on the other hand, is dripping with 70s nostalgia. The beginning sounds reminiscent of theatrical bands like Abba, and it carries a similar smooth-rock feeling throughout the song. With the vocal harmonies and chorus-soaked guitar leads, it’s a beautiful, supremely lush end to a fantastic record.
To be honest, I was scared to write this review. I wanted to do this album justice. There’s no doubt in my mind that this band is going to go on to do great things. They’ve already opened for the likes of Deerhoof and Dressy Bessy and played an immaculate set at Athens Popfest last summer (which I was fortunate enough to watch). Please, for your own sake, give Ignore The Feeling a listen, and follow Rose Ette as they carve out their rightful place in the indie rock canon.