Album Review: BDRMM – ‘I Don’t Know’

By Edward Logie
By May 18, 2023 Album, Reviews

 As a fellow Hullensian it has been a pleasure to see a local band grow and develop from humble beginnings to triumphant new horizons.

Frontman Ryan Smith first ventured out with his self-described post-indie-surf outfit Babies before retiring to his bedroom to start his one-man project entitled bdrmm.

They soon formed a band around this new insular sound, and from there they have slowly been exploring new territories with every release. Their first two EPs are still available for free on Love Our Records Bandcamp. Produced by themselves, they show a knack for the DIY approach which they still hold – with Jordan (bassist) creating their artwork.

Their debut album Bedroom produced by Alex Greaves and released through Sonic Cathedral wasn’t my favourite release. The guitars felt too detached for my taste. It loses a lot of the fun energy of their live performances. However, this distance created by the ambiance, was its catalyst for solidarity during lockdown and helped its rise. The songwriting was still on point, taking an almost darker approach, possibly influenced by the growing Post-Punk scene in Leeds and Hull at the time.

Now returning with I Don’t Know, with Alex Greaves behind the desk once more, they have returned with something completely different. With the great success of their debut, it would be easy for them just to churn out another solid release of shoegaze bangers, but it’s fun to see a band challenge themselves by adding wider and more eclectic influences. Releasing through Mogwai’s own Rock Action label, and just recently coming off tour with said band, they have come back with a new arsenal of assorted sounds at their disposal. 

So, let’s (slow)dive in. 

Right from the onset we see the growing influence of electronica permeating throughout the release. Already this electronic sound has given depth to the more glacial guitar sound. The first track, Alps, builds like a slow mountain climb. Following on we have the first single on the album, Be Careful, which starts with this funky drum sample leading into this great groovy melodic bass line. The refrain “prepare for something else” is ringing true so far. It’s Just A Bit of Blood, the second single, and so far personal favourite, charges in like a flamethrower. This has already become such a more dynamic album to the first. It’s cohesive yet every track feels as fresh as the last. 

We Fall Apart on the first listen failed to really grip me. Meditative in its approach it follows a very basic guitar motif, until it all drops to a single guitar and string-like-synths come in and build the song back up. This is when the track really comes into its own. The spoken word section is almost eligible but that works to its benefit. The vocals aren’t the centre stage of the album. They are just working as another string to their bow.

Now Advertisement One wouldn’t sound out of place in your favourite nature docu-series with some Sigur Rós style vocals sighing delicately in and out. The programmed drums give a sense of slowing down. It’s like watching a glacier slowly melting into the arctic sea. It is clear to see this is no longer a clear-cut shoegaze band but a growing orchestral icy breeze. Hidden Camera follows on with a similar vibe but with more of a song structure.

Pulling Stitches pulls no punches beginning with an almost glide-like guitar sound. This is probably the closest one to the My Bloody Valentine sound – but it is in no way derivative – which makes it a solid track and a great choice being their latest single from the album. Sparse verses and big choruses. I can tell a lot of people will really like this one. 

Finally A Final Movement which itself is a very sombre finale to the album. The song doesn’t go anywhere in particular but stews in its own atmosphere. Brooding and maligning, ending not with a bang but a whimper. I Don’t Know has been a very cinematic experience. 

With a title like I Don’t Know it may seem very apathetic but this record is sewn in with some optimistic DNA. It’s like – hey, I don’t know how we got here but let’s just enjoy it while we can. I can’t help but feel excited about what’s to come after. They recently played Jacko’s Birthday at The Adelphi, and the positive buzz I’ve been hearing only shows how much they are still honing their craft. I can already see the best is yet to come.