“Camera,” the second track on Scotland band DeRosa’s debut album, Mend, was released as a single some two years ago, making little to no impression on American audiences (most likely because no one in the States knew of its existence). The band itself, in some form or another, has been around for five years, however, finally getting around to releasing a proper debut now, and their time spent refining their craft is well displayed on Mend. Its eleven songs show a band extremely confident in their abilities, having a knack for intense, melodic songwriting and deft musical ability as well.
Getting back to “Camera,” though, it does bear a certain rawness that many of the other songs on the album do not. An obvious choice for a single, it’s catchy and loud, the perfect choice for a fist-pumping youth anthem, particularly exciting during the chorus when the music briefly drops out as Martin John Henry incants “hold,” “still,” “keep” and “on” in between repetitions of the song’s title. With so much attention being paid to Glasgow twee acts lately, it’s surprising to hear a regional band utilize so much raw power.
Not all of the album is so brutal; “New Lanark” is languid and melancholic, with far more space between the sweet vocal harmonies of “I don’t want to go upstream.” “Hopes & Little Jokes” finds Henry strumming away at an acoustic guitar, accompanied by minimal percussion and occasional flourishes of synth and electric guitar, though its spare arrangement provides for one of the album’s most haunting melodies. Similarly, “Evelyn” begins with a quiet, acoustic verse, though escalates toward Cure-like post-punk gloom, made all the more eerie due to the addition of some weeping violin.
Let us not forget, this is a band that can harness some musical muscle when they choose to, and they choose to do so a bulk of the time. Opener “Father’s Eyes,” though showing a reasonable amount of restraint, reveals a band seemingly on the verge of eruption. The arpeggiated riffs of “All Saints Day” contain a similar tension, though in this case, they do explode into a large mass of distortion and command during the mighty chorus. “On Recollection” is one of the most directly rocking tracks, chugging along with steady riffs and an overall fierceness that rises above the surface, whereas on most of Mend‘s tunes, it lurks just below.
Five years (though possibly fewer) in the making, Mend is the sound of an artful and incredibly accomplished band. And yet, it’s just De Rosa’s first album. God only knows what another five years could do to this band’s sound, potentially increasing their level of awesomeness exponentially. Having already been treated to one offering of the band’s talent, though, I’m not sure if I can wait that long.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.