Reviewed: March 2019
Released: 2019, Black Lodge Records
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
If anyone reading this has seen the Irish/British sitcom Father Ted, think to the episode “Night of the Nearly Dead”, and the character Eoin McLove. A sickeningly sweet man-child who performs to an audience of elderly women smitten with his affection for puppies, jumpers and cake. That right there, that’s your reference point for this album.
For those who haven’t seen it (go see it), a more general frame of reference. Roulette’s Now! is sugary sweet, saccharine, pop-y AOR. Take “Right By Your Side” as an example:
“As long as I’m alive,
I’m right by your side,
Whatever you might do,
My love will see you through”
Other songs such as “We Can Make It”, “Keep on Dreaming” and (fucking hell…) “Soldiers of Love” bear equally barf-tastic lyrics, just as their titles suggest. I’m certainly not opposed to positive, optimistic music, nor some good old 80s cheese. But this takes the sickly sweet stuff much too far, ending up drowning in its own affability, smothering any musical ambition in desperate attempts to hug and cuddle the listener. The Care Bears have more balls than this.
The whole thing is so aggressively nice, calling to mind cheesy US sitcom theme tunes, motivational montages, or Ned Flanders, becoming more and more annoying by being so constantly cheery. It feels like the musical form of a motivational poster, or a mug reading, “You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps!”. It’s so insufferably pleasant, while at the same time so damned vapid and cliché. The band makes such efforts to be inoffensive that it actually loops around and becomes offensive in its own way, that smug contentedness being so ill-placed in a product so utterly mediocre.
The more I listened to Now!, the more my initial dislike hardened and calcified into a nugget of outright hatred. Why does this exist? What does it have to say of any bloody worth? Sure, the message about believing in yourself and trying isn’t a bad one in itself, but when you put it forward in such a painfully limp way, it loses any power it’s supposed to convey.