In retrospect, Basement probably made a bigger deal of going on ‘indefinite hiatus’ than they should have. Many bands who have said the same thing in the past have used it to soften the blow of what is clearly a breakup, which is why their announcement, made months before the release of their second LP ‘colourmeinkindness’, left fans expecting the worst. It turned out that the hiatus was definite: the Ipswich band reconvened after little more than a year out of the spotlight, having fulfilled prior commitments, and their ‘Further Sky’ comeback EP signalled a new approach and a change in sound.
These things have fully materialised on ‘Promise Everything’, a consistently energetic and engaging record that moves away from the grunge aesthetic of ‘colourmeinkindness’ into a more melodic alt-rock sound. It’s the sort of album that fully justifies their having been asked to support Brand New on last year’s UK tour. On record, everything is crystal clear and comes across as suitably explosive; producer Sam Pura has brought the best out of the likes of Forever Came Calling and The American Scene in the past, and does a sterling job on Basement’s full-length return. Having reunited with their original quintet lineup intact, this is very much a statement of intent from a band whose fanbase seemed to swell while they were away. Opening pair ‘Brother’s Keeper’ and ‘Hanging Around’ serve as a suitably punchy introduction to Basement circa 2016, the latter switching gears between bass-led verses and its guitar-driven refrain for a push-pull dynamic that is charged with energy.
Post-hiatus, the band have accrued the pop smarts necessary to tackle songs like Suede’s seminal ‘Animal Nitrate’ (as they did on ‘Further Sky’), and it seems like that track has informed their new direction somewhat; most audible in the fuck-off big chorus of ‘Promise Everything’’s standout track (and fan favourite-in-waiting) ‘Aquasun’, which sits comfortably among the band’s best material to date and functions as a foil to the harder-edged ‘Submission’, in which you’ll find frontman Andrew Fisher pushing his vocals to the limit. It, in turn, makes way for the acoustic-based ‘Oversized,’ possibly the record’s most restrained track; a trio of radically different songs that work surprisingly well in sequence. The band’s desire to push their sound has also led to the creation of their most cohesive record to date - while still definitely the band we know, the title track & emotive closer ‘Halo’ pair up to encapsulate the growth Basement have undergone in the years since their last record. Their future is full of possibilities; thankfully they didn’t go before their time after all, as ‘Promise Everything’ is their best work yet.
Words: Gareth O’Malley
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