Come December everything seems to slow down musically, with fewer releases as end of year lists are composed and attentions turn to the next twelve months. That said, if the release is good enough late November can also be a good time to make a mark as a band and steal the spotlight for a while. If anything, ‘Headroom’ is one hell of a way to make a name for yourself.
Headroom hail from Manchester and play that rock-infused style of emo which has become very popular over the last few years (some might call it a revival) and the four-piece play it very, very well. You’d expect nothing less from a band consisting of members of Nai Harvest, Your Move and Survival, although the hardcore elements of the latter two are near enough non-existent. What’s produced from three bands involved is a sound incredibly reminiscent of the defunct Basement. That same energy and tone that defined ‘I Wish I Could Stay Here’ and ‘Colormeinkindness’ smoulders behind ‘Headroom’, and there are plenty of similarities although Headroom take that sound and make it their own throughout the demos thirteen minute duration.
‘Outside’ kicks things off with delicate melodic guitars before erupting into life, sounding nothing but triumphant before the crooning vocals come in with the lines ‘everything’s still fading from the inside, nothing left for me’. Reflective lyrics like these are plentiful, and they’ll sit well with listeners as the songs stir up emotions alongside adrenaline. Mellow brooding vocals give way to poignant cries whilst dynamic instrumentals lay out powerful and explosive soundscapes, making for an absorbing and intricate listen that holds a lot of promise for a demo consisting of four tracks. Following song ‘Miss’ surges into life on the back of a chugging riff which drop off quickly in favour of more clever guitar work and intermittent pounding drumming before a chorus composed of the yelled line ‘Do you miss it?. It’s a song that sounds huge on record and will sound even better in a live environment. Third track ‘Slung’ offers much of the same whilst serving up a bit more poetry (‘Slung around your neck is a scar that’s permanent, behind your eyes is bright sunlight’). Every song on the demo is memorable in its own way, and self-titled closer ‘Headroom’ caps it all off with a haunting track perfectly capturing emotion and then coupling it with blistering energy. At its best, everything on the demo blends beautifully as each member works in sync, and the final minute of the closer is a solid example, being the demos strongest. As the song fades out in a similar way to the first started lyrically ‘Headroom’ leaves a listener eager to hear more, and hopefully a follow-up isn’t too far off.
I mentioned looking forward to 2014 at the start of this short review, and Headroom are definitely one to watch. It’s easy to characterise them as filling the hole Basement left behind but they have the potential to do so much more, because their self-titled demo is excellent from start to finish. Free music has rarely been so deserving of a price tag.
Rating – 9/10
Download it here: http://headroomuk.bandcamp.com/