Growing up in Newfoundland, there weren’t exactly a ton of alternative Newfoundland music icons for a bay kid to look up to. There were few bands willing to venture past the overpass on any sort of consistent basis.
The ones that did soon learned that there were hordes of bored teenagers waiting to soak in every sonic inch of their local Lion’s Club. And to some of the those impressionable youngsters, these bands represented some sort of musical upper echelon; royalty of sorts. Well jammed, fiercely original, in control of the stage, and hungry to just play for anyone. That’s how I first came across Roundelay.
Closing in on 15 years later, the band is strewn across the great expanse of Canada. They haven’t released an album since 2009’s self titled sophomore offering, which was years in the making. Besides the occasional holiday show that always brought on heaps of nostalgia, Roundelay was a relic in the minds of the St. John’s music scene.
When I heard how they were going to record a new album, I didn’t believe it. Arnob Bal, their producer, crisscrossing the country to capture everything? Writing new material online? It seemed like such an insurmountable task.
But it all came together. Taking over a year, and physically spanning from shore to shore (not to mention mixed in India), There Just Might Be Enough Time made it out into the world at the end of 2017. And it’s definitely a Roundelay album.
While the aforementioned nostalgia certainly kicks in, there’s a complexity – a maturity – that shines through. This is not some passive attempt at reliving past glory. This is a creative reckoning; songs that were itching to get out. The band keeps evolving. It’s immediately recognizable and feels familiar, but it’s novel. Most importantly, it’s really f*cking good.
It’s everything I remembered from the space-rock titans of St. John’s and more. The mastery of guitar effects is more evident than ever before. It’s full of the trademark roundelay shifts into delay-drenched melancholy, but they feel more intentional. More calculated.
The lead-off, “Photosynthesis” showcases this ideal perfectly: launching from noise, Joe’s vocal melodies build around a swirling mix of dextrous runs, sandwiched into mesmerizing rhythms. They were always a band who had the chops to backup their songwriting, but this is next-level. It makes the earlier records sound juvenile in a way – and that’s no slight at them.
But it’s not just the playing that’s being showcased here. Their sense of melodic timing, their ability to build a song from the ground up has sharpened. “Ferris” is a great example of this – a great song with interesting layers and a worthwhile payoff.
It’s like the band really wanted to make an album or something. It’s foolish to think that distance can completely cut off creative collaboration in this day and age. There’s a certain magic to making music in the same room as a bunch of other people, but it takes wizardry to achieve the technical feat of writing and recording an album like this. All the while, making one that builds upon a band’s legacy.
This is no addendum to a published book; no PS on a letter. This is a full-bodied sequel to one of the best, most innovative rock bands St. John’s has ever seen. It only took 8 years.