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No Rome: It’s All Smiles review – a hyperpop headache

·1-min read

The Filipino singer-producer Guendoline Rome Viray Gomez has described his music as “shoegaze R&B”. His debut for the 1975’s label certainly gestures in the direction of both genres. What No Rome never resolves is the contradiction between shoegaze, where singers sink in quicksands of guitar, and R&B, which often depends on the lead vocal’s quality. His choice is to foreground his thin, trebly voice and treat it with endless effects, which owes more to hyperpop than anything else and is one of the many problems that make this album an exhausting listen.

There’s fleeting relief – I Want U and When She Comes Around have moments that aren’t terrible. The more chillwavey A Place Where Nobody Knows and Everything are OK. Elsewhere, Gomez’s low attention span and love of distortion combine lethally to create music that is way too fussy and tricksy to be enjoyable, and never commits to anything for long enough to drive its innovations home. It’s like hearing a nearby fireworks display – you know someone, somewhere, is probably having a better time than you, but all you’ve got is a headache and an unhappy dog.

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