“Tongue & Teeth”
February 14, 2012 - Machette
You’d be hard-pressed contextualizing Rome Romeo without referencing Elastica. Slashing post-punk guitar? Check. Punchy, danceable, new-wave rhythms and keyboards? Check. Sultry singer with black eyeshadow smokiness? Check and check. This Montreal quartet aren’t the most prolific crew, though: This two-song 7-inch trails their debut EP by three years and their original formation by five. But frontwoman Geneviève Tremblay’s no naïf. During the late ’90s through mid-’00s, she and Rome Romeo guitarist Olivier Maguire played in anthemic roots-punk act Fifth Hour Hero. Her breathy vocal strut has a high-heel kick to it, sidling from brash declamation to a cooing croon that cops Blondie’s pop softness (much like Justine Frischmann).
This tension between modern pop and bracing rock keys both these songs. “Tongue & Teeth” is the better crafted of the two, nicely using instrumental dropouts to highlight Tremblay’s voice and heighten dynamics. Its story of obsession and desire is pretty pedestrian, but damn if the music doesn’t really nail the vibe. “Secrets” is louder and more urgent, but lacks the nuance and push-pull dynamics of its counterpart. Another instrumental dropout in the break really showcases Tremblay’s ability to vamp, as she repeats, “Your talk sounds so little/Your touch feels so little/Call me, me in the middle,” with gathering intensity. She brings a lot of drama, which bodes well for this band’s future, if they can ramp up the release pace a bit. At this rate, we’re really anticipating that debut LP in 2017.