– by Louis Humberstone
On new album Sunless, Floating Room sound complex and introspective, bringing swelling sonics and haunting vocals to a thrilling combination.
Floating Room is a Portland-based band led by Maya Stoner and Kyle Bates, taking emotive Indie Rock and giving it a warm and intimate treatment. The album title is both an ode to the overcast days of their hometown and the dark melancholic themes that the band explores, both lyrically and musically.
The opening track, ‘Sad God’ begins the minimalist and intimate approach of the album. Although the sounds all seem to mix together, there is a clear distinction between each instrument, which keeps the song from sounding muddy. The result is a wave of dark music that is pushed along by a gritty bass line, hovering like a raincloud over the lighter tones of the guitar.
‘Fun’ drifts in with dreamy vocals and that same gritty bass, and is lifted by the presence of buoyant guitars that pull the song apart. Stoner’s vocal power comes across as she explores resilience and standing against her problems.
The entire feel of Sunless is minimalist and intimate. The title and track listing, entirely lower-case and short, keep the attention on the music, but also show that Floating Room is a band with a keen sense of styling and greater album design. This comes through with the album artwork, which is a clash between sketchy details of naked bodies and a photograph of a mountainside. In a saturated music economy, good album artwork makes all the difference in appealing to prospective listeners, and Sunless goes a long way with its vivid imagery.
Elsewhere on the album, ‘Netsuki’ is a wobbly Psychedelic track which stands out with its stomping drum machine. Despite the fact that it is short and instrumental, ‘Netsuki’ shows off another aspect of Floating Room, demonstrating they can as easily convey emotions through music as words. The album closer ‘Canvas’ has a “rootsy” feel with its earthy guitar, but the falsetto vocals that float in the background take the song in another direction. More than anything else, it points to Floating Room as a band who know how to make a complete album, from start to the end, fitting within and around core concepts of sound and lyrics.
Stoner says of the recording process, “Kyle and I were discussing writing and recording at a house show when the idea of collaborating first game up. I had a lot of love and respect for Kyle’s project, Drowse, so I was excited to see how his brain worked.” Along with bassist and collaborator Alec Van Staveren, the collective Floating Room have created a classic Indie album that is evocative of a grey morning but refuses to succumb to its own melancholy.