The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Powerhouse Isabella McHardy , December 14th, 2018 12:26

Jam Rostron digs deep for their glorious fourth LP

"I found the information in me/ All those empty spaces in me/ Are starting to fill with me." A running theme of Planningtorock’s fourth album, Powerhouse, is highlighting the personal progress Jam Rostron has made. It is a collection of songs about digging deep within themself, appreciating family and picking out the parts of their past that weave together to make the person they are today.

In ‘Jam Of Finland’ they explore coming to terms with identity and sexuality as a queer musician. Rostron was raised in Bolton, England, and in 2002 moved to Berlin to pursue a career in music, and to flourish as a non-binary genderqueer individual. This album is a celebration of their transition and the process of finding all the answers they were looking for, finally, within. It’s a sexually charged cry of liberation, a statement that says: I am alive and I am whole. An anthem of hope, satisfaction and reassurance for LGBTQ people everywhere, but most importantly, for Rostron.

The strongest tracks are the most personal. ‘Beulah Loves Dancing’ is a contagious childhood memory come to life. It’s a feelgood ode to the musician’s older sister, and the rave music they grew up on, blaring from homemade bedroom mixtapes. This song builds a more complex structure than the openers, it is filled to the brim with playful synths, paired with a spoken monologue in their Bolton accent. It contrasts so dramatically against the processed voice we have grown familiar with, and although brief, this intimate recollection feels important. It bridges the gap between who Rostron was, as an adolescent, to who they are now, fully fledged.

The title track is a dreamy ballad for Rostron’s mum, explaining how she taught her children to survive through music, to use it as a tool and as a strength. Song by song, the musician collects everything that has formed them. By the time the album comes to a close, everything slots together.

It explores sexuality and class, but Powerhouse is not solely a political statement. Instead, it is simply a story of queer existence. From childhood to present day, the album floats between chanting expressions of self-certainty, to intimate biographical snippets. Rather than looking for approval, Planningtorock is laying out their experience and listeners can take it or leave it. It almost feels like a sigh of relief. As if Rostron has finally come to terms with it all. No more doubt, only reflection and healing.