Seldom – Romance


For me, Seldom was one of those instances of love at first listen. After hearing the band open for Pedro The Lion (the two bands also share multiple members), I was quick to pick up the debut EP they had just released, Places I Haven’t Seen. I listened to those five songs over and over again, and it grew to be one of those discs you listen to so much that when you hear it months or years later, it reminds you of that particular time in your life. Naturally, I was eager to hear the band’s first full-length, so when they came around Boston once again about a month ago, I stopped by to pick up a copy and check out the live show once again. The crowd may have been rather sparse because of it being Monday night, but the band played the majority of Romance before I had heard the album yet, and I immediately knew what I would think of it.
The rainy skies back home in Seattle seem to bleed their way into the music Seldom creates, with everything from the stark album artwork to the often downtrodden vibe of the songs doing their best to ruin your good mood. The playful bounciness of the opening “Who Am I?” is countered by the somber mood of nearly every song that follows, but not to the point where it becomes overly depressing. At the heart of this emotion is Yuuki Matthews’ voice, which never sounds quite happy, and occasionally gives the impression he is fighting back tears. As a result, and in a similar fashion as friend Dave Bazan, it is tough not to listen closely to what he is saying, filling you with either the urge to cry along or offer comfort. Simple lines like “Romance is rubbish, I guess,” from the darkly beautiful title track, may sound silly on paper, but when heard in the context of the song, become quite poignant. Behind him, the drum work fits in just perfectly, ranging from simple rim taps to frantic fills, but always in an effective and polite fashion. Melodies are usually created by keyboards rather than guitars, and the result is part of what makes Seldom’s sound so endearing. The warm atmospherics created by the keyboards and other toys offer just a hint of spacey wandering, but all squeezed snugly into the frame of a simple little pop song. Meanwhile, making up for the lack of prominent guitar work are the easily noticeable basslines, engraining the framework of the song into your head while you’re busy listening to everything else.
Musically, you could easily compare Seldom to their friends and counterparts in Pedro The Lion. In fact, my roommate heard one of the more somber songs on Romance and asked how Pedro had released another album so quickly. But the two bands are just different enough where if you don’t like Pedro The Lion, you should still do your best to give Seldom a listen because this is certainly a band that is able to stand out on its own, without any of the name dropping I have done within these three paragraphs. The atmosphere created when all of the aforementioned elements get together may not be a terribly upbeat one, but it will put you in that sort of quiet and contemplative mood that you often come out of with some great new aspiration or hope. Honestly, a breathtaking record that does a fine job of living up to all the expectations I had for it.