juno roome ruminates on the state of the nation in “capitol”
In the first few weeks of 2021, it seemed like the political tension in America had reached a breaking point. Terrorists stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC. The sitting president threatened to undermine the entire democratic process. Any hope that we had for a pleasant 2021 dissipated. It wasn’t until Inauguration Day, when a peaceful transition did occur, that everything seemed like it might be alright.
But even though the threat of internal strife has slightly subsided, the many injustices of our current system still cast an ugly shadow on the future of America. This respite, however brief, did not fix the core issues of all of our problems. On his latest single, “capitol,” New York-based singer juno roome gives us a brief reminder of that.
In his own words on Bandcamp, juno roome writes that the song is “Inspired by the Forever Chemicals scandal / BLM movement, the unfettered late stage capitalism and its affluent policymakers (capital in capitol) and how they perpetuate almost every other modern American tragedies”–lambasting the internal turmoil of the United States and the symptoms that led to our current state of affairs. But upon your first listen of “capitol,” roome’s message might not be too apparent.
Disguising itself as a mellow ballad, “capitol” quivers with a beauty that blooms from the darkness. Strung along by soft strings and an intimately pulsing beat, juno roome’s voice is the main source of the song’s mysterious allure by distorting whispers and half-bitten words until they’re completely unrecognizable. It’s that voice that injects a little bit of everything into “capitol,” burying layers of emotion into the song’s trembling subtext. Mentions of the killing of Rayshard Brooks (“Rayshard sleeps parked in his car / In a drunken drowse / He needs a hand home / Not hands on him / And another draws last breath”) are captured as tonal melodies. Brief references to fat cat policymakers who sit back and watch as millions of families struggle are turned into a scathing chorus (“Blind us / Strip us / As you lie / To your heirs of your Dream”). You’d never guess that a song as delicate-sounding as this would have such a critically sharp message, but that’s the sad majesty of “capitol.” At the end, when juno roome finally hits the song’s climactic high note, his words distort into pure noise–unleashing a cathartic scream that fills the air with raw emotion.
“capitol” puts into sound a flurry of feelings that are hard to describe using only words: a multifaceted mixture of rage, frustration, hope, and anxiety. For anyone who just wants to listen to a gorgeous song, “capitol” can be just that. But for anyone else who might be cautiously watching the state of the nation, “capitol” is much, much more.
Li-Wei Chu is the chief editor of From the Intercom. When he’s not editing drafts and searching for new artists to cover for the website, he loves watching cult films, cooking, and listening to his ever-growing collection of vinyl records. You can follow him on LetterBoxd and make fun of his taste in movies here!