The deep, stirring hum and pounding kick drum of Hallelujah pulse through my headphones and I can honestly say I’m pumped. Sitting on a packed out train in Sydney peak hour, I’m trying my darndest to do those subtle head-bobs and knee twitches that don’t disrupt my fellow sardined Sydney-siders.
It’s an undoubtedly rousing impression to make for the first track off Hoops, the sophomore effort by Menangle’s golden sons The Rubens. A blood-pumping track that incites fist and arm flailing both in the mind and physically when the occasion calls for it.
A sudden halt and a twanging bass line melts into second track The Night Is On My Side, a slower more progressive track with witty lyrics concerning one-night-stands. A particular favourite being “She says she loves the moonlight / and the way it pulls the tide / but it’s just daylight in disguise”. Hoops is a slower groove, slightly understated and a little stagnant but it carries a catchy hook all the same.
Bluesy treat Switchblade is reminiscent of the slower Jimi Hendrix moments, while fifth track Bitter End holds a more R&B feel with a subtle build up that explodes into a feast of frequencies.
Venturing over the halfway point, Cut Me Loose is a more generic pop-like affair but holds a real distorted rock n roll feel to the guitar solo, which justifies its 3-minute lifespan. Things About To Change sounds more soul influenced with the pumping percussion and group vocals and yields a compelling sing-along essence.
Another bluesy viber is Battles, the eighth track. Fuzzed out guitars and a swooning bass line, which descends soon into a chaotic sounding guitar breakdown. Hold Me Back is a piano led radio-friendly jam, which holds appropriate synth tones that accentuate the desperation of addiction in the lyrical subject.
Leaving the final two tracks: The Original, with it’s trembling guitars and spitting lyrics, and album closer The Fool, with sweet harmonising vocals and a crunching bass line.
Descriptions of this album as a “timeless record” can definitely be justified. All eleven tracks are thematically varied, and show the great range that they have within their own rock realm. But while it’s not an intricate, mountain-moving excursion, it will definitely satisfy those that wish for that ‘bluesy’/’surfy’ rock gem that makes for great crowd fodder and rocking out mentally on a peak-hour train.
Interview: The Rubens Talk New Album Hoops And Their Love Of Hip-Hop
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Gallery: The Rubens – Splendour in the Grass 2015 / Photos by Yael Stempler