Leicester five-piece Rose Island Republic first appeared in The Ripple back in December 2011 as one of the most exciting bands our university had to offer. A year-and-a-half on, debut EP Choices Made With the Ceiling has arrived, available on Spotify as well as iTunes, and it’s safe to say our faith has been rewarded.
What’s especially pleasing about the EP is the breadth of the musical offering. There’s nothing especially outré in the modern era about an indie band made up of four males being fronted by a female but plenty of indie bands are happy to act like it is – as if having a female, rather than a male singing average indie will somehow mark you out from the crowd. Rose Island Republic, rather, work for your affection and the EP is all the more endearing as a result.
So where lead-singer Leigh Hayward’s vocals on opening track ‘Twittering Machines’ are most reminiscent of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, for example, ‘My Stolen Crown’ strikes a different note entirely. The jangly guitars and lively percussion of the former are replaced by a lone acoustic guitar and Hayward’s husky solemnity. The result is a Laura Marling/Joni Mitchell-esque tale of depression and heartbreak, complete with the terrifically bleak line, “Make the bed, make the bed/And take a pillow and cover my head”.
Elsewhere, the lively ‘Casual Nicotine’, led by driving guitar, ups the tempo, and the splendid ‘Elements’ uses the titular weather conditions as a metaphor for female emancipation – hey, it worked for Florence & The Machine. Hayward is a true talent but the rest of the band are no coasters – the instrumentation is sufficiently multifaceted throughout to impress beyond her vocal talents. One can only hope that this EP is not the last we’ll hear from this lot.