Guest reporter Angela says The Rubens' debut album is a great start for a band that just appeared out of nowhere.
Like many fans, I first head The Rubens on Triple J. When the first notes filtered through the radio to my ears, I stood there in shock until the song was over. I admit that the bluesy guitar got me interested, but what clinched the deal was vocalist Sam Margin's raw, honest crooning. I had no idea who the band was at the time, but I loved the song and needed more.
The prayers of fans were answered by the band - brothers Sam, Elliott, Zaac Margin and friend Scott Baldwin - this month when the band released their self-titled debut album The Rubens.
The first song on the album is "The Best We've Got", which starts off with just the piano, and then explodes into a loud, layered piece that would be perfect at their live performances. Vocalist Sam mulls over this time in their lives in the song, singing, "They say these days are the best we've got/What a tragic thought/And I try, and I try not to waste this time/But it just flies by", making us all remember how short our youth and our lives will ultimately be.
"My Gun" was the second single released after the resounding success of "Lay it Down", which also makes an appearance on the album. Unlike "Lay it Down", the remastered version of "My Gun" has been refined in a good way, smoothing out the song and giving it a more professional, polished sound. The anticipation builds with the drawn-out note at the beginning of the song before the band tears into it with fervour, reminding us that they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
As an album, the lyrics are well-written, and the songs are generally well-produced. The latter would clearly be due to the influence of David Kahne (The Strokes, Regina Spektor). There are some songs on the album though, such as "Lay it Down" and "I'll Surely Die", in which Kahne seems to have been more of a hindrance than a help. The songs sound muted and a bit too constructed - songs like this would make the crowd go crazy at a gig, but the production just doesn't do them justice.
Standout tracks that even the original fans haven't heard previously would have to be "Elvis", a song with a smooth beginning and The Rubens' ever-poignant and heartfelt lyrics, and "Paddy", a soft, bittersweet song that brings the best elements of the band's style together. "Be Gone" should also please fans, with soaring guitars and a cheeky chorus that hints at the band's untapped potential.
For a band that just appeared out of nowhere with a stellar track, this debut album is a great start. The songs are soulful and bluesy with raw, heartfelt lyrics that will make fans listen to the album for hours on end.
It will be interesting to see what The Rubens do next, now that they have quickly gained their legion of fans and popularity. Considering that they're currently touring the album, and will soon be supporting The Black Keys on the New Zealand leg of their respective tour, I doubt that these guys from Menangle will be fading out of the limelight anytime soon.
4 out of 5.
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