Many of you will already know Room 94, after their debut album No Strings Attached reached the Top 30 in March 2014 – a mightily impressive feat for an unsigned band. If you can’t place the name, don’t worry. It’s hard to categorise Britain’s finest rock/pop/R&B/whatever they fancy four-piece.
Less than a year later, they’re back with a second album that deserves to be self-titled, because there really isn’t anyone else out there right now like Room 94. That’s a shame in many ways – more bands should have the balls to mix it up in such a carefree manner.
In the first four songs, they pin the listener back with the aggression of first single So What, get you on the dancefloor with irresistible R&B on the Drake/The Weeknd-influenced Too Young and show how they played arenas as support to Union J and Lawson with the ridiculously infectious pop of Dirty Dancing. What follows is even more impressive.
Meet Me On The Dancefloor, Party Anthem and Keep Your Hands Off My Chick are anthemic, hook-heavy rock that recalls the band’s love of You Me At Six, The Offspring and Bring Me The Horizon. Tell Me What Love Feels Like and Monday are ultra-modern slick pop, Good Life is an EDM banger to make Calvin Harris jealous and the starkly confessional ballads Pills and Your Song are a million miles away from production-line slowies. Then there’s the hilarious Streets homage Xs and revenge epic Poison, whose Queen/screamo hybrid is deliciously deranged. The self-explanatory Party Anthem is equally raucous, leading to tales of dancing til dawn in “a mad Brazilian club somewhere in East London” as Kit admits: “I’ll dance to anything. Not necessarily even music.”
Room 94 is a band and an album as at home on the main stage of Reading And Leeds Festival or shooting hoops with 5 Seconds Of Summer, and one that came easily to its makers. They’ve shown they can make such an accomplished record without the need for co-writers or collabs.
The album was made with Jamie Sellers, himself a pop producer itching to flex his rock muscles. “Jamie’s into the same stuff as us,” enthuses Kieran. “He wanted to combine rock and pop, and he’s got the studio pop know-how. It was a real laugh in the studio with Jamie.”
Despite the album pulsing with the energy and attitude of a band out to enjoy themselves first and foremost, Room 94 care more about their fans than most, constantly engaging them with them on social media. Dean isn’t joking when he says: “We get ill because we stand outside gigs for so long with fans.” Kieran expands: “We’ve grown up going to see bands, so we’ve been those fans, standing outside venues wanting a photo that means so much to you. One tweet can be huge to a fan and help them out for the day. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.”
For those unaware, the lads have certainly earned those fans the old-school way, having played their first show when Dean was just 13 and toured solidly since 2010. Having headlined venues like London Koko and nicking plenty of headliners’ fans while playing arenas, Room 94 wanted to ensure all the feelings on album two were entirely their own. “We didn’t want to have some 30-year-old professional songwriter going ‘I’ll write a song with you’,” says Kieran. “How will he identify with us, or the fans? Fans see through it, because they’ll say ‘What’s he singing about?’ You can’t do a song properly if you’re not feeling it yourself. With every last element of this album, I can just feel it’s me when I sing these songs. That’s so good.”
Named after the rehearsal room at their school in St Albans, Room 94 had a simple choice when it came to naming the album. After toying with Black And White and Strings Attached, making it self-titled was obvious. As Sean says: “Room 94 is who we are, and so is this album. We’re reintroducing our sound.”
It’s a bold and adventurous album, while remaining gloriously catchy. There’s room enough for everyone.
Room 94: Kieran Lemon (vocals); Sean Lemon (guitar); Kit Tanton (bass); Dean Lemon (drums)
ROOM 94 – 2015 TOUR DATES
28 February Oxford, O2 Academy 2
1 March Bristol, Thelk
3 March Bournemouth, The Old Fire Station
4 March Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
5 March Glasgow, O2 ABC 2
6 March Newcastle, O2 Academy 2
7 March Sheffield, O2 Academy 2
9 March Liverpool, O2 Academy 2
10 March Manchester, Academy 3
12 March Birmingham, O2 Academy 2
13 March London, O2 Academy Islington
14 March Dublin, Academy 2
15 March Belfast, Oh Yeah Music Centre