March On Rome – Higher
aaamusic | On 17, Oct 2011
March on Rome, indie-rock kids from Essex, have done so many things right. They came up with a great band name, which is more than most 18-year-olds like them can pull off; they have a pretty badass rhythm section; they’ve toured the south of the country extensively and played some crucial London venues (The Relentless Garage). And all of this before they’d released a single scratch of material… hell, even before they’d been signed, which they still aren’t. They’ve done so well, in fact, that it might seem mean to start going all petty on them when they actually do release something (i.e. make something available as free download)… it’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it.
Opening their 4-track debut EP Higher is the title track, a tight, proper indie-rock, post-We’ll-Live-and-Die-In-These-Towns tune, with a chorus the size of Australasia. Next is It’s Only Fair, providing the most Coral-esque moment of the record, yet combining that with a spree of glam solos à la You Could Be Mine. Somehow, the juxtaposition comes across as quite odd. But you gotta love them for trying. We are the Enemy is a screeching, Paramore-esque attack, brought back to indie territory by the grave bass and singer James Nolan demanding ‘Fulfill your promises to take away the pain’. The final track All I See experiments with acoustic balladry instead, and it’s a weird Morrissette-meets-Weller affair, although not as excruciatingly bad as that sounds.
The schizophrenic mixture of musical references made to describe this band says quite a lot. They’re great musicians, and you can feel the urgency in their production which is essential, but this genre pastiche leaves you wondering which of these inspirations is the true March On Rome. Nothing that a few more years in the business and a bigger effort to channel James Skelly’s spirit won’t cure, though.