Grunge-Rockers Basement Polish Their Sound

by The Cowl Editor on October 18, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

Underground British Band Makes Major Label Debut

by: Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

The cover art for Basement’s new album, Beside Myself.

Since their inception in late 2009, the UK-based group, Basement, has been viewed as a member of the punk rock and grunge-revivalism crowd. Their fuzz-filled alternative style of rock has evoked feelings of a mix of 1990s mainstream grunge and elements of early 2000s emo and punk. This sonic consistency is present in each part of their discography thus far. 

However, with their newest release Beside Myself, listeners find the band more streamlined and consistent than ever before. Beside Myself, released on Oct. 12, is Basement’s major label debut. After releasing their previous three projects on Boston label Run For Cover Records, the band signed with pop-punk powerhouse label Fueled By Ramen in February 2017. 

With this new label signing comes a refining of Basement’s rough and raw sound. Where front man Andrew Fisher’s vocals used to be more focused on volume rather than melody, his voice shows more control and melodic intent on many of this album’s songs. The instrumentation follows in this same vein, as it seems more well-developed than in their earlier work. 

This is not to say, though, that Basement has lost their unique and identifiable sound. They still maintain their brand of emo-rock that defined their tone and gained them a following during their formative years. The band does not trade the raw originality of their roots for auditory clarity, but instead achieves a solid mix of these elements on their fourth album.

Thematically, Basement finds themselves treading on familiar ground. Tom Connick of NME writes, “that penchant for rose-tinted revivalism comes into singer Andrew Fisher’s crosshairs time and time again—a feeling of alienation and the sense of self his most frequent muse.” Fisher’s vocals remain focused on these topics of self and longing, while often straying between the past and present, highlighting the struggle between the two. 

This lyricism is consistently backed up by solid instrumentation from the entire band. Guitarists Ronan Crix and Alex Henery trade off between melodic, acoustic strumming and heavy, infectious electric riffs and solos. All the while, bassist Duncan Stewart and drummer James Fisher provide the steady beat of the songs, usually up-tempo and punchy. 

While the album as a whole stands as cohesive and unified, certain songs stand out as more notable additions to Basement’s repertoire. The lead single and opening song of the album, entitled “Disconnect,” showcases right off the bat the sleeker sound the listener should expect from the album as a whole. Later songs, like “Nothing Left,” provide listeners with a more traditional, loud, and in-your-face sound, while other standouts like “Changing Lanes” and the closer “Right Here” offer the softer, more refined side of the band. 

The album’s themes of alienation and longing, while not completely resolved, do find some form of closure by the end of the 39-minute runtime. While Fisher laments losing himself in the moment in the early song “Be Here Now,” album-ending “Right Here” finds him repeating “I will be right here.” Although their sound harkens back to the early 2000s, it still seems relevant and original in the here and now.