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FOAMMM (NO) – “Rollerblades”

Norwegian psychedelic pop group FOAMMM must be doing something right. Before the Oslo-based five-piece even began recording its self-titled debut album, which is out April 26 on Norwegian label Sheep Chase Records (home to Dark Times, Outer Limit Lotus, and more), it had already opened a tour for Ought, not to mention individual shows for Garbage and Fat White Family. “Rollerblades,” the newest single from FOAMMM, hints at why the band has already achieved so much: Psychedelia, pop, and shoegaze haven’t sounded this infectious and cathartic in quite some time.

The moment the guitars of “Rollerblades” gradually pour into the song’s intro like maple syrup spilling off a table, it becomes tough not to compare FOAMMM to any number of modern psychedelic pop acts. The track certainly sounds as sugary and sticky as the peaks of many contemporaries’ catalogues, as battling layers of phaser- and reverb-drenched guitars swirl around half-note synths and slightly compressed drum hits. Vocalist Chiara Cavallari sounds as though she’s reporting from a few feet underwater, and she makes her distance sound sweet, even as her bandmates traverse through key changes and synth surges that, during the chorus, uplift the song’s dour underbelly.

Throughout “Rollerblades,” Cavallari uses the track’s titular object to symbolize the apathy that can arise when the going gets tough. Even though she occasionally brings the laughs—the song’s first lines are “Roller skating in my underwear/’Cause I just don’t care”—her commentary mostly veers into the listless and sad. When she waits for the sun during the song’s chorus, she also lets important times pass by, though it’s not quite FOMO: “Waiting for the sun/missing all the fun/losing everyone/I’ll always be on my own.”

Analogously, the song’s video depicts two people leading utterly different lives. One character looks miserable as he shovels dirt from the ground; the other looks delighted as he shoots some hoops in a local park. Towards the video’s end, we see that the shoveling character is digging up something very relevant: his rollerblades. As we learn this, an absolutely massive wall of shoegaze guitars becomes the song’s focus, blasting away the song’s bleakness in a cathartic moment of rejoicing and unity.

As these guitars blare out, both characters skate away on their rollerblades, which eventually conjoin in a trippy collage. It’s as though FOAMM has designed “Rollerblades” to say: People drift apart, but the forces of life often bring them back together. No wonder FOAMMM has spent so much time on the road: this band can clearly handle distance.

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