Album review: Roosevelt

By David Flanigan

It is all-too-easy when discussing upbeat, colourful electronic music released between May and August to fall into the “sound of the summer” trap (Daft Punk’s gangbusters masterpiece: ‘Get Lucky’ is the sound of the summer, every summer, of course – thanks, Limmy). Yet, Cologne-born multi-instrumentalist Marius Lauber/Roosevelt’s self-titled debut record feels distinctly seasonal, despite exerting a quieter warmth of a vacant twilight beach-scape rather than blistering EDM Ibiza fervour, and being an altogether subtler affair than the vast majority of music to be tarred with that denomination.

As a product of Berlin-based record label Greco-Roman, Lauber has rubbed shoulders with a few major players in modern UK Dance, namely Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (with whom he toured, in 2012), Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and Disclosure. While Lauber’s brand of electronica is notably different from these coevals, his downplayed, sombre vocal tones bear an obvious resemblance to that of the most-former. Clean vocals are basically non-existent on his debut release, and the processing on Lauber’s soft European whispers give them an almost distant feel – as if the album’s aural beach-scape is one he narrates from afar, rather than one he is directly a part of.

A solo record in the very most literal sense – entirely written, recorded and self-produced, Roosevelt at times feels like a lonely project, it certainly comes through in Lauber’s words. Lyrics centre on change: “When you left you took your colours with you/To make them last” (‘Colours’), regret: “Feels like I’ve been left behind/Make up with the past/If I can only change your mind/Would it ever last?” (‘Close’), possibly longing: “Hold me up into the lights/Get back to where we used to like” (‘Fever’). Yet, Lauber stays as measured lyrically as he does sonically (and with English clearly his second language), he wisely chooses to show, rather than tell.

Built on a foundation of 70s disco guitars, French House synths and tiki percussion Roosevelt’s debut album collates reinterpretations of several influential genres in the modern history of dance music. ‘Belong’ takes on guitar-driven 80s Synthwave, ‘Sea’ pays homage to 90s Dream-pop, and ‘Daytona’s bids farewell to 00s prog-house; serving also as an+ intro to his latest single, the utterly eminent: ‘Fever’, itself an interpretation of modern electropop. ‘Night Moves’ most resembles the work of his aforementioned contemporaries, a derivative of the Deep House they helped establish. Even his album art is unmistakeably 80s – pout taken straight from a Poison press shot.

Lauber is not incumbent with his nostalgia, however. While there are very deep historic footprints in his music, its beauty is how he incorporates these influences with modern sounds and ideas to create a record that, considering the smorgasbord of genres that it takes from and plays on, is so consistently atmospheric and almost unreasonably cohesive, it is amongst the least deserving of candidates of a label as belittling or underselling as “sound of the summer” is.}