Remember Remember - Forgetting the Present
Graeme Ronald's twinkly post-rock songs remain light, airy & full of momentum, but lack originality
Three years and countless live shows since The Quickening, Graeme Ronald’s Remember Remember has settled into a six-piece formation, with twinkly glockenspiels and soaring synths to the fore on contradictory third record, Forgetting the Present. As the oxymoronic pairing of band and album name might suggest, it’s never quite clear whether Ronald is looking forward or back with his busy – but never overdone – compositions. The answer, most probably, is both: a restless innovator with nostalgia for the old ways (so much so that the album’s fourth track is named after them), he unites three- and four-decade-old genres with futuristic, otherworldly grooves and then smooths over the joins until it’s one progressive, sweeping whole.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Remember Remember must be keen to impress label bosses Mogwai – tracks like ‘Magnets’ and ‘The Old Ways’, with their sense of creeping menace and shimmering guitars, could have been lifted right from the Les Revenants soundtrack (meanwhile ‘Why You Got a Blue Face’ sounds like a Mogwai title, even before you get to the song). The comparison is intended as a compliment, but it’s starting to feel like there’s little new that can be brought to the post-rock table, and besides – the other band rarely comes out on top in comparisons with the ‘Gwai. ‘Magnets’ is grandiose and engaging, but Ronald and co are at their best when exploring something a bit different, such as the intriguing dalliance with disco on second track ‘Le Mayo’.
Ronald’s been quoted as saying he wanted these recordings to capture the energy of the many live performances the band’s current incarnation has now notched up, and in that respect they, along with producer Tony Doogan at Castle of Doom studios, have succeeded. Such introspective, studiously mesmeric pieces could easily get bogged down in their own intricacies, especially when only one of them falls below the five-minute mark, but they remain light and airy and full of momentum – if only it were a momentum that took them somewhere new.
Out now on Rock Action. Remember Remember play New Dennistoun Parish Church, Glasgow, Fri 13 Jun.