Review Summary: Although it is nothing ground breaking, it is a fresh breath of air for a band that seemed to have lost their spark.
The Rasmus is a four-piece rock group from Helsinki, Finland. They achieved critical acclaim with their fifth record “Dead Letters” and its lead single “In the Shadows” which broke into top spots on musical charts all over the globe. You literally must have lived under a rock if you’ve never heard the song. Since “Dead Letters”, The Rasmus have released two more albums, “Hide from the Sun” and “Black Roses” and their lead singer/songwriter Lauri Ylönen has released his solo album “New World”.
Their previous album “Black Roses” was met with mixed opinions, some loved it, others didn’t. I myself did not enjoy it as much as I’d hoped to. I personally think it’s mainly because of Desmond Child producing and co-writing every song. Now I am in no way accusing Desmond Child for being a poor songwriter or producer, he has proven himself otherwise with several well-known acts such as Kiss and Bon Jovi and is after all a part of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. But for me, it felt like The Rasmus had lost their original European trademark sound for a more casual American average.
With their new self-titled album The Rasmus have again teamed up with producer Martin Hansen, the same person behind “Into”, “Dead Letters” and “Hide from the Sun”. Hansen works well with the band, and it shows, with “The Rasmus” the band has recaptured their original trademark sound with a more overall commercial feel to it. If you have anything against radio friendly rock, then this will not be your cup of tea and you should turn away seeing how this is their most mainstream influenced effort. Although it is nothing ground breaking in any way, it’s fresh breath of air for a band that seemed to have lost their spark quite a while ago.
Even though the album’s highly influenced by mainstream music “The Rasmus” incorporates most of what they’ve done in the past with tracks like “Friends Don’t Do Like That”, were you have symphonic elements which The Rasmus experimented with on “Black Roses”. “Someone’s Gonna Lift You Up” on the other hand is a much heavier and darker track which immediately feels like it could belong on “Dead Letters” while “You Don’t See Me” or “At the End of the Story” are lighter and more pop influenced songs that recaptures their earlier experimentation of pop rock found on the “Into” album. Slower, or rather milder tracks like “Somewhere” and the albums closer “Sky” have a familiar “happy” sound to “Sail Away” from “Hide from the Sun”. As for the albums slowest and (in my opinion) the weakest track “Save Me Once Again” The Rasmus tries to make a slow and emotion ballad, sadly the song can’t keep up with some of their earlier work like “Justify” or “Don’t Let Go”.
In March 2011 lead vocalist/composer Lauri Ylönen released his debut album “New World” which featured electronic music in contrast to his previous work with The Rasmus. It is clear that “The Rasmus” incorporates a lot of elements from his solo project as well, especially on tracks like the albums lead single “I’m a Mess” and the disco-driven “It’s Your Night” which sounds dangerously like his hit-single “In the City” and has big radio potential of becoming their next single.
Even though the electronic elements are more present on this album compared to any of their past work, it would be a bald statement saying that the guitars have been replaced by the synthesizers. If anything I’d say that lead guitarist Pauli Rantasalmi has improved as a musician and put a lot more soul into this album instead of just writing catchy riffs. On their previous albums (not including their funk-era) the guitars have served as a catchy element to give the songs an certain edge. Given, songs like “First Day of My Life” or “Night After Night” from their previous albums were catchy mainly due to the vocals and the guitar riffs, but if you’d look at them purely musically they were never too impressive. On “The Rasmus” however, the guitars are beautifully executed and helps along with the bass and synthesizers build an atmosphere to the songs not found on any other The Rasmus album. It is on tracks like “Somewhere” and the album’s opener “Stranger” that Pauli really shines. Although he is pushed a bit back into the mix compared to the rhythm guitar and other effects, his leads are phenomenal creating a beautiful haunting guitar going off in the distance. This might not be as obvious on the first listens, but when you give the album a couple of listens you’ll most likely come to like it more and realize what I’m talking about.
At first I was a bit disappointed off the album; it didn’t feel like if it was going anywhere. It felt boring and mediocre at best. I wanted to give the album a fair chance, so I gave it a couple of other tries, and eventually the albums atmosphere became much clearer. If you are a fan of The Rasmus, you’ll most likely like it (unless you’re a nagging Dead Letters hipster) after the first listen, if you aren’t a fan you might need a little more convincing. For me, this album has a couple of solid tracks like “It’s Your Night” and “Stranger” which I can turn on at any time and enjoy, while tracks like “Friends Don’t Do Like That” and “Save Me Once Again” will become boring and will be among the tracks I’m skipping the next time around. “Dead Letters” was packed with hits, unfortunately “The Rasmus” isn’t. It has a couple or memorable songs, but if you look on the album as whole then (in my opinion) the value of the album will rise significantly. Therefore, I believe that the album is meant to be listened to as a whole instead of a track here and a track there like you would do on “Hide form the Sun” or “Into”.
The album flows like a river, nothing feels out of place. The guys in the band have put a lot of effort into this album, and it shows. Every song is individually different from one and other and hints to what they’ve done in the past while still keeping their reinvented sound throughout the whole album. Therefore, before you judge the album by the poor choice of a first single “I’m a Mess”, try to listen to it as a whole and you might just end up enjoying this album as much as I do.
Besides for replacing their old logo with an hideous Doppler effect inspired logo, The Rasmus have in fact recaptured their trademark sound, reinvented it with a more radio friendly approach and made another welcomed contribution to their discography. Although not being their best, it is certainly not their worst. “The Rasmus” is absolutely an album worth picking up!