Label: Dirty Hit
Released: 3rd December 2021
Good things are worth waiting for – or so the saying goes. We’ve had to wait a very long time for the debut album from No Rome, the Dirty Hit signed solo-artist-slash-production-wizz-kid who promised so much on his arrival what seems like an age ago. A key collaborative force to labelmates The 1975, it’d be very easy to lose No Rome’s own identity inside what he’s offered to others – especially given how much of himself he gave to 2018’s ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ – but that would be to do a disservice to ‘It’s All Smiles’, a gem of an album in its own right.
While it might be a record that sits firmly within the vibey, smooth future pop bubble that Rome has operated to this point, there’s much more to it than a template first set years ago. Scratchy guitars make opener ‘Space-Cowboy’ an organic prayer – pleading “please don’t go” over a glitching, distorted soundscape. ‘I Want U’ is an instant earworm, as is lead single ‘When She Comes Around’. Varied and compelling, ‘It’s All Smiles’ is its own universe, existing in its own warm sonic palette – a welcoming place where it’s easy to feel at home.
If No Rome has missed his moment, it’s hard to say – but if there’s any justice even a late-in-the-year release slot at a point where the buzz has started to fade from view won’t be enough to obscure an album of genuine brilliance. At a point where we all need something to sooth our ills and reignite our faith, ‘It’s All Smiles’ does exactly what it says on the tin.