The RPMs – The Hope & Ruin – 7th December 2017

The RPMs – The Hope & Ruin
Photo by Liam McMillen

The RPMs described themselves as a “Rock band, not afraid of a good pop tune”. This is false, however, as there’s no other way about it: they’re a full-blown pop band with killer hooks, anthemic choruses and polished, tween vocals. They’re certainly not going to be for everyone, but this five-piece know how to write a good pop song. It’s clear to see why they’ve been supported by everyone from Radio X to BBC 6 Music and BBC Introducing. They’ve got a widespread appeal to their music that is hard to come by.

Support on the night came from the last minute addition of local band Capture, after the lead singer of This Party ended up in A&E. Considering they were drafted in late, they provided a very impressive set of indie-rock. The likes of ‘Carousel’, ‘Scapegrace’ and ‘Around Town’ – which will be their debut single – are soft indie-rock with a ferocious bite at the chorus. Currently between names (Capture isn’t here to stay) and without social media pages, they’re sure to fill a sizeable indie hole in the Brighton live scene where they’re fully set to rock.

Having switched from a three-piece to a five-piece recently, The RPMs seem to be transitioning into a fully-fledged pop bonanza. The addition of Chris Bowden on keyboards is the crucial recruitment here. Not only does he make their songs feel snappier and hookier, but he gives The RPMs a depth that they didn’t have before. There’s an acumen to the band now that could see them make the next step up.

Although they were marred by tech issues on the night, with Callum James’ drum pads not working for the majority of the show, they sounded tight, compact and strong as a live band. The tunes are great too, with single ‘Oh My God’ a highlight on the night. The only song on the night to be more on the side of rock than pop, it’s an audacious and edgy sound siphoning the anxieties of global events. They also debuted new songs such as ‘Never Thought it Through’ and ‘I Don’t Know’ that embrace the poppier side of their sound. For example, ‘I Never Thought it Through’ sees the dark corners of The Hope & Ruin turn into a shining, light disco with Bowden’s keyboards sounding fluorescent, beaming and dazzling.

Ending on brand-new single ‘Your Ghost’ was a masterstroke. It’s a fulgurating indie pop scattered sensation. It’s extremely catchy, overflowing with bursting, hurtling pop panorama. The melody is succulent with a bright and breezy radiance. It won’t be for everyone. The RPMs will no doubt split people. Some will not like their bubblegum pop aesthetic, along with their baby faced appearances but, for me, the proof is in the music. There’s an infectious nature to the quintet, they seem like they’re loving every minute of it as well as being confident and self-assured. They’re certainly not the complete package yet, but they’ve got a solid platform to work on. Their on-stage talk needs work, for sure, but they’re an unashamedly great pop band, capable of writing songs with more hooks than a coat rack.

Liam McMillen