Under Review


It Takes a Lot to Show Up

Pretzel; 11/01/2016

Charmaine Li

The driving guitar riff behind “It followed us home” opens up a record that listens like a sketchbook you take on a spontaneous road trip up the rainy west coast in the middle of winter: intimate, visceral, honest and almost conversational. Its music notes and life notes scrawled in lo-fi ink and minimalist guitar, underlined by heavy bass lines and occasional smatterings of harmony. Makes sense: Beshéle Caron (Rooms’ brainchild) mentions on her CBC profile that the project is a product of years of journaling. She reflects on the meaning of being a feminist, life epiphanies, and of course rising rental prices in her native Vancouver (playfully poked at by the short but lively track “Market value”). No wonder the album sometimes reads like introspective alleyway escapes.

Yes, it does “take a lot to show up,” but this relatably-titled album is not without its highlights. Two tracks struck me sharper than the others, “Gossip Saves” and “We share a paycheque.” The former expresses what Caron described on CiTR’s Lady Radio (08/01/16) as a theme of communication and miscommunication that the album is built upon. The anxious strumming in this track suggests running thoughts and the idea that perhaps the stuff we think people say about us is actually what we think about ourselves. The title is curiously counter-intuitive and spurs some food for thought, which is left to the listener who is told to “be brave” to mull over.

“We share a paycheque” is a reworking of an earlier song performed by Caron’s previous project We Make Earthquakes. Whereas that recording of the track is an acoustic miniature, Rooms’ version underlines the track with a more desperate bass line. And rather than a relaxed steel-string, a hypnotic electric guitar riff is the hooking motive that accompanies the rather relatable opening; “There might be a boulder on my shoulders.”

With clean rhythms and simple motifs, Rooms’ debut tape is musically-understated, but not lyrically so. Parts of it are like unexpectedly valuable ramblings you’d discover in a conversation with a buddy. If you hunt around, you’ll find that Rooms is only one of Caron’s many projects, and the introspective, stream-of-thought approach to writing in this release suggests that this is one is one room of many.