Published Jun 02, 2015Roman à Clef is a band featuring both Ryan Newmyer and Jen Goma from A Sunny Day in Glasgow and Kurt Feldman, the frontman of Ice Choir, who also plays drums in indie-pop outfit the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Given the sonic overlap these bands share, it's no surprise that Roman à Clef debuts with a very defined modus operandi even after just a short gestation period, and that Abandonware, which sports a very tongue-in-cheek title, arrives nearly fully formed.
Abandonware's shimmery, new wave production values owe much to dream-pop and '80s pop music. With vintage synth tones, jazzy guitar chords and drum machines abound, it embodies the sound of lush romanticism melded to complex arrangements, but the most memorable tracks tend to be the least busy. "Bye Gone" is an example of the band stuffing musical ideas in the hopes of having something stick; at five minutes' run time and with far too many progression changes, the song drags on incessantly despite its fantastic production. More restrained tracks, like "Lucky Toasts," "Roman Clay (27 BC)" and "PSBTV," are economical and manage to sneak a few twists and turns in shorter runtimes.
The album has two variations of the title track — "Abandonware (Hannah and Zoe)" and "Abandonware (Josh and Jer)" — but it's the latter, album-closing track that completely bucks expectations by starting with a driving upbeat feel, only to later explode and jet off into the credits as fuzzy shoegaze guitars kick in. It's one of the few moments in Abandonware where Roman à Clef really loosens up and has a bit of fun, and the results are fantastic to witness. (Infinite Best)