Review Summary: With elements recycled from previous projects, Bosnian Rainbow's self titled debut has an air of sameness about it whilst delving into generally all around solid songwriting.
Where does one go when one’s (arguably) most famous project has been A) disbanded B) left in the gutter or C) both? Does one go on to use said project’s infamy to hype the subsequent coming project, of which little information was divulged on? Or does one go about doing their next project quietly? This sort of dilemma has possibly, and probably, existed for many a famous musician. The former option usually tends to build up momentum for a project that inevitably ends up being disappointing. The latter usually ends up with a rock-solid album that presumably, no one hears but everyone says is “great” or “fantastic”. So what happens when a certain Mr. Rodriguez-Lopez, of At the Drive-In and Mars Volta fame, does both and forms a much talked about band with a little-talked about record? You get the self-titled debut of Bosnian Rainbows of course.
Bosnian Rainbows formed after the Mars Volta recently broke up, and play a Rodriguez-y version of alternative rock (with alternative rock here serving as a catch-all term for an incorporation of various sounds). That’s about as basic of a primer description one can get. What they really do is have Teri Gender Bender (of Le Butcherettes fame) wail abstractly emotional verse after verse over “artsy” guitar noise borrowed from Rodriguez-Lopez’s previous musical endeavors while mildly-abrasive-but-not-quite-abrasive electronics (which sounds borrowed from Noctourniquet
mingle with drums in the background. This goes on for eleven songs with mild variation between each. The tendency to repeat itself on a consistent basis is the album's greatest weakness.
While they lay down a fundamentally solid foundation, Bosnian Rainbows tend to lose their aesthetic appeal when it becomes apparent the individual components of the record are recycled and, quite frankly, lazy. This is where it becomes paradoxical and problematic. On the surface level each song sounds different but once broken down, it becomes apparent these elements are recycled both from previous songs and from prior Rodriguez-related projects. Much of the individual guitar sound and electronic accompaniments sounds “borrowed” from solo projects and Noctourniquet
respectively while the vocals are eerily reminiscent of each other from track to track. This leads to an undeniable sameness throughout the whole record. Sure it’s consistent but when does consistency turn to derivation of its inspirational source? When it does the same thing for every track on an album and the lines between consistency and derivative get muddied.
While it isn't exactly ridden with originality, it still has strong songwriting that keeps from being sleep inducing. “Always on the Run” takes a noticeably surface-level turn from the rest of the album by incorporating a pseudo-punk rock approach while the subsequent track has a haunting, if slightly dull, atmosphere. The tracks themselves aren’t terrible in any sort of manner but nor are they particularly great. It’s a mildly enthusing but ultimately unexceptional, run of the mill experience, akin to being invited to a get together that is initially promising but ends up being uninspired with little in terms of variation as far as get together experiences go.
The dilemma Lopez faces is that he can’t entirely get past the sound of his older endeavors. His approach is different, but the individual pieces end up being rehashed and re-assembled into something else. This is where Bosnian Rainbows is right now, on the cusp of rehash and originality. Where he can take the band’s sound is an exciting prospect but for now it remains somewhat tired and played out.
Stream - http://www.npr.org/2013/06/16/191298046/first-listen-bosnian-rainbows-bosnian-rainbows