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[Album Review] Floating Room – False Baptism

I remember the exact moment I realized I had completely fallen in love with moody, beautifully textured indie rock.

Spending a long, bored night tumbling down the endless rabbit hole of the internet, I happened upon (of all places to realize this small epiphany) a Tumblr profile. Completely by chance and with little intention to stay, I took no notice of the actual profile itself and decided it would be best to just move on, Until the webpage’s embedded audio file kicked in, and Daughter’s ‘Human’ started playing. Choppy waves of reversed soundbites briefly appeared, before the track’s raw, organic backbone of acoustic percussion and guitar leapt into the foreground. Within seconds my attention was peaked, but it was the dulcet, lonely delivery of Elena Tonra that completely immortalized the moment: “woken up like an animal, teeth ready for sinking.” As I sat rooted to the spot, the track flowed by in an instant, and I realized I was in complete adoration of the response the track had triggered within me: every little piece and texture was working its way to an emotive core that simply begged to be lost in, and once it had hold it was fully intent on keeping me there until the final lyric – “I think I’m dying here.”

Be it the poignant vocal delivery of Maya Stoner throughout ‘Soft’, or perhaps the absorbing reverb-laden lead guitar of ‘Lie’, if Floating Room’s False Baptism stands for anything, it is to be exactly as ‘Human’ is: to be completely lost in. Opening the album with ‘Dog’, False Baptism wastes absolutely no time in establishing a soundscape of gentle, dreamy indie rock instrumentation, and Maya Stoner’s wistfully romantic vocal delivery. Seemingly intoxicated with the constant vulnerable back and forth of “oh, I love you – but I can’t relate” and “I don’t like how weak I am when I’m with you”, ‘Dog’ sees Floating Room diving completely into their chosen emotive sound and lyricism with ease and conviction, and while it may not be anything significantly new in the realms of moody indie rock, it’s undeniably enchanting regardless.

Continuing False Baptism, ‘Seashell’s introductory clean guitar arpeggios and rippling, twangy bass quickly gives way to a more up-tempo, rock-infused direction, drenching the track in fuzzy guitar riffs and Sonia Weber offering an energetic performance through the percussive side of things. It’s bouncy and infectious at its core, but retains much of the poignancy explored throughout ‘Dog’ with Maya Stoner’s vocal delivery being a sorrowful and lonely centerpiece for the track – that is, until the midsection, where things abruptly shift into a lengthy, almost awkward repetition of the same simple guitar lick. Lasting for several long moments and exploring a distant uneasy dissonance that gradually builds as the section continues, it’s a moment that relishes in the impatience of the listener in not just quickly leaping back into the fray, but in doing so creates a lingering anticipation that proves hugely satisfying when ‘Seashell’ finally returns to its infectious core.

Now, while being “infectious” does certainly come into play within False Baptism, with ‘Acid Queen’ revisiting a similar energy to ‘Seashell’, and the grungy, reverb-soaked distorted riffs of ‘Lie’ sees Floating Room at some of their heaviest, the album truly thrives throughout the likes of ‘Soft’ or ‘Pure’. Completely at the mercy of a haunting ambiance that beautifully swells and builds, while peppered with some strange spoken word sampling, ‘Pure’ is little more than a precursory track that bridges the gap between ‘Lie’ and the fantastic album finale ‘Falling Room’, but its Brian Eno ‘Prophecy Theme’-esque textures which wash over the listener in such a wonderfully absorbing manner that simply cannot be ignored. It’s a stunning moment, simple and yet so effective because of it.

As mentioned before, False Baptism is here to be lost in. There’s an undeniably emotional center that drives much of the material found within the album, and while it’s plenty similar to some familiar names in the indie rock scene of the last decade, this does little to slow Floating Room’s momentum. Just take the gorgeous final few moments of ‘Falling Room’ as a perfect example: embracing a solemn tone and gentle rhythm for much of the track, the album ends with its finale slowly deconstructing piece by piece, a lengthy instrumental section that sways back and forth softly until only a final few distant chimes remain. At its core, False Baptism has heart: it’s bright and shining, yet vulnerable and exposes that vulnerability with little hesitation for the sake of pursuing something that wants to bring you closer and keep hold til the very end.

Mark Stoneman
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