Capsule Review: Romaplasm – Baths


This piece was originally published by Audioxide in November 2017. I don’t hate it. Nice.

When Will Wiesenfeld sings “Our goodwill is going to kill us” on ‘Extrasolar’ he could almost – almost – be describing the experience of listening to Romaplasm. To be sure, this record is shot through with an infectious sense of euphoria: Wiesenfeld’s heart would appear to be overflowing, as almost every track here is imbued with an indelible brightness – a pervasive warmth and exuberance – that’s difficult to deny. And, though he frequently foregoes the piercing candour of 2013’s Obsidian, the fantasies he frequently indulges on this record, while perhaps not as immediately striking as the naked despair of Obsidian’s lyrics, reveal themselves to be deftly redolent of very real and personal experiences: ‘Yeoman’, for example, delicately articulates fervent infatuation in terms of a character excitedly embarking upon a Studio-Ghibli-inspired dalliance in the sky. The record’s ebullience, however, eventually gives way to an exhaustion that threatens to kill it, as Wiesenfeld offers little in the way of modulation or variety. That is to say, though I am thoroughly charmed by the elation propping up this record, I cannot help but notice that it’s articulated in very similar terms throughout, with a consistency of tone, structure, and sonic palette that threatens to veer into a sameness. Which is not to suggest that the songs are bad; the maudlin “Coitus” notwithstanding, I actually find myself delighting in every track on Romaplasm, compelled to return to each one by an enchanting hook or a beautiful turn of phrase – or, quite frequently, both. Rather, my quarrel is that the experience of the album as an album – as a unified experience – is somewhat fatiguing; as much as I adore the neurotic dancefloor exaltation of “Out” on an individual basis, for example, I do feel somewhat numb to it when it appears eight tracks into the record, following many similarly hyperactive, synth-laden songs. My reaction to Romaplasm is thus frustratingly ambivalent: though I’m largely besotted with what Wiesenfeld is doing here, I’m not convinced that I’ll return to it in totality; it is ultimately more successful as a collection of (mostly) wonderful songs than it is as an engrossing album.


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