Written by Brandon George
Floating Room is a band that exemplifies the potential for iteration in music. Building from the origins of a mostly solo recorded debut album, their latest EP “Shima” is both a logical progression of everything that came before, and an indicator of a new, bold direction for the band.
In the years since Floating Room’s formation, singer and guitarist Maya Stoner has added singer-songwriter Mo Troper on guitar, Ben Burwell from Alcopops on drums, and Camp Trash’ Keegan Bradwell on bass to the ranks. The result of this gradual evolution is something transfixing: a combination of Floating Room’s earlier work that borders on shoegaze in its distorted obfuscation and the wry, bitter sentimentality of their most recent releases.
From the early, fuzz-filtered Sunless to the clear, soft rock-driven Tired and True, Stoner’s vocal melodies consistently transfix in their complexity. The whispery chorus of “See You Around” has Stoner tip toeing in and out of a whimsical falsetto. On “I Wrote This Song For You” and the refrain of “Shimanchu,” Stoner utilizes descending melodies that defy resolution and build tension to each song’s explosive climax.
The lyrical themes, too, are a powerful iteration on what the band has explored previously. “Shimanchu” is a phenomenal example of lyrical mastery in the way Stoner repeats the chorus. First appearing as a tired, sarcastic remark, the chorus, “I am an islander/But I’m away from my island/So I am the only island here” then reappears, howled into a painting of visceral rage alongside the guitar solo. It forces the listener to recontextualize the song’s lyrics, and represents the arc of painful conversations with obnoxious strangers.
The utilization of unison between guitar lines and vocal lines, a signature of the band, is here in new form. The band’s new sound; fuzzier guitars, clearer vocals, louder drums; here serve to heighten the emotional resonance in these songs.
It isn’t that Floating Room has left behind the soft-rock grooves or shoegaze sentiments of records’ past, it’s that they’ve allied it with rousing guitar solos and moments where Stoner eschews pretense and delivers lines with the absolute anguish and power they deserve. “Shima” is a welcome evolution that is guaranteed to enrapture new and longtime fans of the band.