Review Summary: oh love
I’ll just clear the air now and say it: Romaplasm
is a disappointment. Stacked up against Baths’ back catalogue, it pales in comparison to the spritely burst of bubbles stained in Cerulean
melancholy and stumbles next to the distorted smoke screens of screams echoing through Obsidian
. Will Wisenfeld’s third full-length attempt tastes more like a rainbow lollipop dipped in a thick coat of chocolate; both layers delicious and achingly sweet (almost to a fault), yet unable to coalesce into a soothing flavor when eaten in its entirety. However, when sliced apart the record yields satisfying bites of oblique pop music, showcasing hints of progression within Will’s knack for production.
reeks of indulgence, as seen with the clenchingly catchy refrains and its thematic dependence on the personal articles scattered across the floor. While it’s undoubtedly a “happy” endeavor both in tone and subject, this contentment sometimes bleeds into hollow pop adventures. The entire structure of ‘Out’ feels outdated in its attempts to foreshadow the sickly sweet falsetto-ridden chorus, managing to become both grating and anachronous. While the hyper-catchy singles don’t suffer as much as this venture, I can’t help but slightly wince at the overly-ornate and operatic hook within ‘Yeoman’. Will Wisenfeld can definitely write an addicting melody, but for the first time in his career there is a clear disconnect between the emotions behind the notes and his thematic explorations. While the idea of singing about “personal interests and passions” in order to evoke inexplicable feelings is an audacious one, it’s clear to see why certain emotions come off as phony or surface-level. Yet, it’s difficult to completely throw away the entirety of Romaplasm
, as often times the album succeeds in providing addicting dopamine hits. The clearest case of this has to be the ADHD-sounding ‘Adam Copies’, a track that pulses by in a flurry of harmonious bleeps and bloops. ‘Superstructure’ and ‘Broadback’ follow the same animated pattern of excitement, spawning glimpses of fervent yells that feel passionately real
. Here is truly where Will’s production gets the spotlight on the bedroom-themed stage; an exciting peek of a craftsman honing in on his skills.
I’m probably making it look like the album is purely a energetic flare of electro-pop that only succeeds when the melodies don’t come across as bites of artificiality. While this much is true for half of the tracks within this record, there’s still hints of solemn vulnerability that Will so elegantly portrayed in Obsidian
. There’s something gorgeous within the crackling echoes of ‘Human Bog’, especially when Wisenfeld admits, “I’m queer in a way that works for you
,“ in a somber yet realized tone. As far as electronica ballads go, Baths somehow manages to be both busy in production and haunting in melody while still sustaining a chilled-out aura of moonlit blues. ‘Wilt’s’ Pyramid Song-esque piano loop offers doses of earnest sedation and romantic admissions (“I’m craving your skin, rain that swims / An October wind is prevailing again
”). While not every slow song can be associated with success, it’s still nice to see these breaks in the hectic vibrations and sometimes overly-dramatic vocal refrains. It’s a frustrating listen for a number of reasons, namely not living up to the lofty expectations its predecessors set. So yes, Romaplasm
is a disappointment, suffering from self-indulgence and dissociations of intents. And while it has produced some of Will’s worst song outputs to date, him clutching to the contemporary will either help him breakthrough into universal appeal or it’ll catalyze his own demise as an artist always attempting to “catch-up”. While I hope and pray for the former, only time will tell.