June 3, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: No Rome - Fantasy (2013)

When we've first featured No Rome with his early releases, “Dance With Me” and his cover of Michael Jackson's “Rock With You,” there was no sliver of a doubt that Number Line Records' prodigy is set to do remarkable things in a music confinement that's already brimming with outstanding talents.

Gone are the days when chillwave, electro-pop and other related bedroom projects find exclusivity in obscure music blogs, fading into oblivion the next week after. Now, its domain is available in wider varieties, thus catering to even the most finicky palates. But what appeals the most and what sets the best apart from the rest is when one capitalizes on a very unique style defined by his or her personal tastes. It might be a mix of influences, trends, technological innovation - all sculpted into a distinct form of its kind. And when you listen to No Rome, it sounds like a montage of your teenage years wrapped in his own twisted afterglow.

One might catalog his EP, Fantasy as K-Pop-slash-electro-slash-bubblegum-pop faddy, and it's completely fine. But that doesn't take away the fact that at first listen, it brings back nostalgic feelings of harmless firsts. Puppy love, first kiss, all these uncomplicated phases of our lives documented in a youthful, zesty take.

Fantasy opens into a mellow foray with “2k5,” a hallmark soundscape that dabs on lush pads and supple ambient flourish, setting the Asianwave tone of the record. The remaining 3 songs are signature No Rome: melodically rich and injected with youthful vibe. Splashed with skippy grooves and darted bass, “Tru Feelings” is the best track to shimmy to all night long, pumping bright colors from its woozy millennial ambition. Title-track “Fantasy” frolics into a light-hearted love song glazed with poppy bleeps and chimes. It also features samples from the hit Korean series, The Princess Hours. And then there's a swooping quality in the Zeon Gomez-assisted “Don't Let Go” that makes it the perfect closing track, with its swirly synths and slushy beats taking all the flirting to its final base.

Rome's first 'blondeelectro' offering is still raw. But time after time, many have proven that rawness does not equate to mediocrity. And so this is why even at this point, we won't be surprised if this young man wins in the next beatsmith skirmish.  B   
via Mary Christine Galang

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