Rllrbll – The Bidder

3 out of 5

Label: Leper Without A Cause

Produced by: Gilles (recorded and mixed by)

A common refrain from me: a band doesn’t have to stick to one thing, but there’s a version of mixing it in which a group / artist can lose their identity.

Rollerball, already having gone through several I-hardly-knew-ye stylistic shifts over the years, drop two EPs – The Diddler and The Bidder – and even between these, I can’t say it feels like the same band. And unfortunately, not in a necessarily complimentary way. The Bidder is actually a solid cut of indie pop in comparison to Diddler, but whereas that other EP had elements I could identify as unique to this band, this one feels rather faceless, getting off to a very promising start and then swerving somewhat confusingly during the 7+ minute Abby into radio friendly electro-pop, rather doubling down on this on the B-side after another slight detour for the crunchy, no-wave style rock of I miss you like sick. The net result of these swerves and leaning toward accessibility is, as mentioned, a removal of personality: these are songs that play like an opening band that you nod along to on your way to the headliner.

Admittedly, I have not checked in with Rollerball much since the early 00s, so it is very possible I’m missing all the steps from there to here which would better ground this recording, but the comparison with The Diddler is in part what informs this – that one sounds like Rollerball to a degree; this one, mostly, does not.

Which is completely separate from it being bad, as the soul / electro are well mixed with the occasional forays into noise, fluttering in the background. It’s just that the balance between the two leans way more into the pop – except opener Judith, which feels more experimental – and that “transition” is effected on the aforementioned Abby, not as a hard swap really, but once the vocals start, the vibe of the song just settles into… normal. And I guess I’m not really here for normal.