Indie and Synth Pop have seen much development over recent years, gently drawing further and further back towards a simpler time of stylistic choice, finally reaching a comfortable place of well nurtured nostalgia in the sights and sounds of the beloved 80s. Neon stained skies, oceans of synth and drum machines as far as the eye can see now lead the way, telling tales of summers long gone, and lovers long departed. Escapism, if you will.
And so along comes RÓSA, here to snatch away your sore summer heartache and drown it in a medley of glimmering, vocal-centric, synth-drenched, subdued summer anthems. Last year brought with it the band’s first EP, Gypsy Queen – a delightful four track that practically shimmered with joyous guitar performances alongside thick, sensual synths and, again, a delightful array of drum-machine lovelinesses.
After only a single year of relentless promotion and touring across the US, the three Orange County indie-synth-poppers are already here with their brand-spanking new sophomore EP, Wasteful – a short but sweet collection of subdued summertime sadnesses that firmly grab the debut and crank the production up to 11. A year’s worth of industry experience has evidently given the guys heaps of invaluable knowledge and inspiration – it clearly shines through on this body of work. Not only that, but contributions of producer Thrice Noble (known for work with acts such as The Vamps, Adam Lambert and Weird Al, not to mention countless contributions to film and television) bring a whole new dynamic to the table. In short, RÓSA sound better than ever.
Things kick off abruptly with Without You, a drunken, dreamy introduction ruled by vocalist Will Winters’ thick, hazy vocal delivery. Weaving in and out of gentle synths, punchy kicks and delicate snares, the track feels almost organic, rolling in and out of itself to create a shimmering dreamscape of subdued joy. Both graceful and punchy, Winters invites you to sink through the floor with him and melt into the thick, synth-filled party, offering you a figurative sip from the bottle of god knows what. Regardless of whatever the hell the contents are, they’re fucking gorgeous.
The party atmosphere is pumped up again in following tracks Alone and Future. Featuring kicks that knock all sense from your mind alongside snares crisp as the dry autumn air, two-stepping funk-infused guitar hand in hand with moaning synths and the ever familiar silhouette of Winters’ vocals leading you through the fray, Wasteful paints a vivid picture – stumbling through smokey, strobe lit halls, Merlot in hand, lead by a familiar figure to a room far from worry and responsibility.
When looking back at this point of Wasteful, things begin to become wavy. The wine has been gladly drunk and the beat pounds on, but memories of the night begin to slip into each other, a bit of a dizzy daydream. To put it plainly, RÓSA become less striking in their sound. Not necessarily dull, but rather a little exhausted – these are ideas we’ve seen time and time again. Wasteful isn’t unoriginal by any stretch of the imagination, but step back and you’d almost mistake it for a set of B-Sides from, for example, The 1975’s own sophomore, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware Of It”.
Despite this, RÓSA stands their ground firmly, and when put up against acts such as The Japanese House or LANY it’s clear that these guys aren’t just filler – the production is glossy and satisfying, the performances both charming and enticing, and Winters tops everything off, creating an atmosphere that frontmen such as Matty Healy could only dream of. As delightfully intoxicating as the sound may be, Wasteful isn’t a lullaby – it effortlessly holds your attention from start to finish without as much as lifting a finger.
That is until the final track.
Don’t Say is in its own league, and undoubtedly stands out as Wasteful’s highlight. Beautifully layered vocal harmonies swirl around themselves whilst organic percussion drive the verses through the dead of night, leading to choruses that bring an undeniable sense of conclusion to the project. It’s really just heavenly. From it emanates a tranquility, balanced out wonderfully by the punch and finesse that RÓSA pull off almost effortlessly time and time again, not to mention Winters’ calm, controlled vocals pulling everything together as we’ve come to expect them to. This is truly work of art.
All in all, Wasteful is not to be missed. Whilst not totally revolutionary amongst its peers, it creates its own dazzling spotlight, bright enough to draw you into its world for a brief, blissful trip down Heartache Boulevard. By drawing elements from some of the best and brightest in this area of the industry and painting a whole new dreamscape, RÓSA have set a new bar for future artists, and we can’t wait to see where they go next.
RÓSA have upped the ante by tenfold since their debut. Despite sitting comfortably within the tropes of their genre, their presentation and delivery make them stand out massively, and after checking Wasteful out, you'll probably find yourself revisiting it time and time again.