By Kyle Harcott
There are those records that come along, once in a sparse while, that hurt to listen to – not because of how bad they are, but quite the opposite, because they are so life-altering-ly good. The kind of albums that, from the moment you hear the first note, you fall instantly, hopelessly smitten. Like I said, these albums are a rare occurrence (becoming more rare every day), but The Inside Room has become one such record for me. From the way the initial sweeping, crushing chord on “Restless” pricked up my ears, I knew I was in for something extremely special and paid full attention through the album’s 47-minute duration.
In confession, I have zero knowledge of Patrick Walker’s old band, Warning – and so had nothing to compare 40 Watt Sun to, and came at this album with no expectations whatsoever. If anything, this lack of foreknowledge and expectation made for the purest listening experience I could have possibly hoped for. While I am peripherally aware of the legacy that Warning’s Watching From A Distance left in its wake, not being familiar with any of that band’s output it was impossible for me to judge The Inside Room on past glories, thankfully.
Throughout, The Inside Room is packed with some of the most sublime depression committed to tape. The kind of heart-caving sadness and reflection that causes one to hide slinking from the sun and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist – because sometimes you have to sink as far down into it as you can, in order to find something worth clawing your way out for. But as gloriously attenuating as the weight of such august melancholy is, the thing that strikes me fiercest on the album is the opiating sense of hope pervading every song. Sure, as incredibly self-gratifying as sheer, shoulder-crushing lachrymosity can be, it’s equally as manumitting when you finally see that sliver of light coming through the crack under the door.
So, then – here are five masterful chapters of an epochal book of sighing, lurching, heart-plucking gloom. I am hesitant to use the rhyming “d” word as a descriptor (though I’m sure everyone else is), due to the preponderance of these awash-with-darkest-sunshine riffs that scalpel their way through the gloaming. I’m reminded of a passage in Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun where Joe Bonham (imprisoned in the hell of his war-mangled body) finally recognizes the glorious touch of sunlight upon his skin – The Inside Room is akin to that touch of sunlight.
If you, like me, have spent time in the gloom cocoon of misery and even momentarily liked it there (for a little while, anyway), The Inside Room is both your ticket into and out of the darkness.