Review: The Room In The Wood – The Mars EP

By Live4ever - Posted on 01 Feb 2019 at 10:13am

The Mars EP

There are as many complainants about music wickedly going unseen, unheard or unloved as there are those who talk about the lasting differences between the stuff produced in Liverpool versus almost anywhere else in Britain.

Both groups have a point but neither really bottles the essence of The Room In The Wood, a confection of Paul Cavanagh and Dave Jackson, working together again for the first time since their highly cultish post-punk outfit The Room split back in 1985.

Since reuniting they’ve been prolific; in 2018 releasing the EP Magical Thinking and their eponymous debut album – both, whatever accusations of bias you can level, cruelly ignored by the public at large – and now this, three more new songs and an encore, each of which borrow in different ways from a grab-bag of mostly Northern eccentrica, showcasing in the process their multi-threaded and unorthodox approach to learning new tricks.

The title-track is an admirably riffy sideways look at whether the red planet is the sort of place that, courtesy of the damaged Elon Musk, billions of normal people who want to stop our own world and get off could use as a lifeboat, a hope dashed in the deadpanned, scientifically accurate lyrics, ‘Mars can’t save us/Mars has no air’.

The duo reckon that this paired together with Time Machine – in form laid back and almost jazzy but about H.G. Wells hopping back in his gizmo to the start of a failed love affair – gives the impression of a scientific edge, but if anything this is primal learning, not the stuff of Bunsen burners and lab coats.

If there’s a welcoming unorthodoxy to that approach, it’s equally a cliché to automatically associate the region with a left of centre political consciousness. The duo seem more than happy though to respond to it on Every Lie, a marching sort of blues which doffs a hat to Johnny Cash whilst decrying the rise of the populist right, both too close to home and in Trump’s morally crippled America.

Before you can fully wrap your head around that they conclude with Get Clear, the song’s Latin mood a cryptic background for a tale which is ostensibly about a cult member performing an intervention on themselves whilst apparently acting it out in a crackling, ancient Spaghetti Western.

Each to their own. Up until now The Room In The Wood have been something of a secret society in a city which intentionally or not loves to keep good things to itself. Mars won’t save us, but music like this gives us more of a chance of redemption.

(Andy Peterson)

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