To pigeonhole ROOFTOP RUNNERS as an ‘indie’ band is just too convenient. It’s also a disservice to the band as this is not your standard ‘indie’ fayre. But then, I realise this is just exactly what I’ve done – and I don’t suppose the only one to have done so.
You see, this four track EP could possibly be more accurately described as ‘trip pop.’ But then you could maybe argue that it comes across more ‘camp’ or kitsch than you’d expect from music from that genre. In fact, for the most part these songs are dramatic in a kind of melodramatic way – like something taken from and overblown and somewhat ostentatious burlesque stage show.
ROOFTOP RUNNERS are Canadian singer-songwriter brothers Benedikt and Tobias MacIsaac. They are internationally accomplished choreographer and dancer respectively, having performed with world-class troupes extensively throughout Europe. They currently operate out of their adopted city of Berlin.
Now it all begins to make some kind of stereotypical sense!
These are probably not ‘instant’ songs, but rather they grow on the listener with each and every play. I have to confess that taking a casual listen whilst driving is probably not the best way to appreciate this EP. But with a little persistence and ‘active listening’ you really do get into the vibe!
The EP opens with ‘Streets’ – a real slow-burner. Slowed down beats that sound like handclaps dictate the pace while in the background a synth (or the likes) gives its best impression of an electric motor trying unsuccessfully to start up. Occasional little dashes of piano notes sort of sink into the sticky quagmire of heavy bass sounds that contrast wonderfully with the dramatic falsetto vocals. (You know ….. imagery-wise I just can’t help thinking of the video for the David Arnold & David MacAlmont version of ‘Diamonds Are Forever,’ when I hear this track. But yeah, OK – the band’s official video, see below, is more like The Verve.)
‘Energize’ quickens the tempo slightly. And the intensity. Relying on a throbbing bass line and piano arpeggios, this track also features some great vocal interplay between the lads. It still has a little burlesque feel intertwined with the more modern styles, and is all the more unique for it.
‘Bang Bang,’ starts out in both a rather manic, but also slightly haunting fashion. When the beats drop in it takes on more of a regular form, although the buzzing bass tones this time create a bit of a threatening mood. It’s kind of eerie and creepy too – like it’s being delivered by some bunny-boiler with a massive chip on their shoulder!
‘She Devil’ is probably the most ‘conventional’ of the four tracks. It’s a bluesy type of song, given a modern take with a shot of pace injected. The final minute sees a chunky guitar riff supporting a choppy guitar bed, over which the vocals are more or less chanted.
Yeah – I had a change of heart on this one. I wasn’t too keen to start with but as I said earlier, a little patience and perseverance is a worthwhile investment here. What I like is the particular uniqueness of the approach and overall resultant sound of this EP.
I believe ROOFTOP RUNNERS will have their debut album ready for release come the summer. It’s going to be an interesting listen!
(Self released on 3rd April 2012)
(8.5 / 10)