Anyone who was into sad rock bands and emo outfits of the late nineties and early oughts, say American Football or Ida are going to love the Minneapolis sad-rock quintet Robat. They had me at hello with the first few heart wrenching bars of the opening track “sweet dreams” from their latest record tiny. “sweet dreams” is awash in a myriad of slow guitars set to down tempo drums with their tinny cymbals swelling and crashing like waves on a shore. From there we roll right into the equally lamentable and brilliantly gooey sadness of “Seeds.”
Up front it is the duo vocal stylings of Alex Wright and Omid Huttar which give Robat so much of their beauty and power. However without the beautiful in-tandemness of their playing: the pin prick guitar melodies and delicious instrumentation and tempo’s each of the ten songs on tiny takes on those voices wouldn’t sound as sweet. They all come together in a head on the fantastic myriad of guitars and noise that is “float” on which one then gets a bit of a hint of influence by a newer era of sad songwriters, mainly Real Estate.
This slow and hum-drum feeling combined with uplifting instrumentation continues on the borderline funky yet straight up guitar rambling dirge “caroline” and then continues onto the lengthy and mostly instrumental (save for a few ethereal oooh’s) “robat vs ratking.” The band sadly leaves the form briefly for the clunky “get better” though they’re back on their feet rather majestically with the nearly six-minute ethereal and melancholic “2-4 (her blue)” which reminded me slightly of Stereolab’s “French Disko.”
Next up the title track “tiny” diverts from the usual form and ends up sounding a little sluggish and seems like parts of it were made up on the spot. The seven-minute long “don’t wanna know” doesn’t have as many hooks as their previous efforts.
Despite the few spots that I didn’t quite think fit into the mix, I can admit to being a bit of a purist and I cannot truly then fault, but rather should applaud Robat for at least taking chances to branch out their sound. But let’s not dwell on the negative, rather the positive, and that I found tiny to be one of the best records by an unsigned artist, or any artist for that matter, in quite a long while. Highly recommended.
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