Rx Bandits
Gemini, Her Majesty


4.5
superb

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
July 24th, 2014 | 286 replies


Release Date: 07/22/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Just give it time.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the spacy vocal intro track to Gemini, Her Majesty and the off-the wall tremolo picked opening of "Ruby Cumulous" herald yet another trippy "progressive ska" (if there is such a thing) outing from the experimental reaches of the Rx Bandits. It bears a striking resemblance to ...And The Battle Begun's own vocal intro, and the pulsating lows of that bass amid loosely ska influenced melodies feels quite familiar. Yes, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Rx Bandits are out to slap the next huge leap in fusing ska, reggae, and a menagerie of other influences together in your face once more, but you'd still be wrong.

Gemini, Her Majesty, the Bandits' seventh outing and their first since reuniting for the 10 year anniversary of The Resignation, opts to shift out of your face and into your ears by exchanging overt mind-bending musical combinations for structure and still obvious, but keenly purposeful proficiency. But this time around, the center of the sound for the Bandits lies squarely in head-bobbing beats and sing-along choruses. In a way, this is a new territory for the group, whose recent albums leaned more heavily on instrumental power and less on traditional verse-chorus structuring. But in either case, Gemini places its focus first and foremost on crucial vocal melodies and hook-laden rhythms that plant seeds of permanent musical residency in your ear. And while they may start out as unnoticed and uncultivated fragments, take my word that they will grow, blossom, and set root over time.

Sure, the chord progressions are a bit simpler and most tracks play closer to a consistent sound than on the Bandits' past few albums, making for a less progressive-appearing sound. But the structural playfulness of the group manages to find a way to become a powerful cement, filling in the cracks between choruses of tracks like "G2G." It's a little more subtle than it had been on previous albums, but in the grand scheme of things, even the toned-down electronic accenting on a track like "Stargzer" provides the poise and punch needed to complete the track with that signature Rx flair. Some will herald this as a maturing of the band while others will damn it as a regression. But in all reality, it's just a new choice in musical direction for these progressive ska veterans who are still very much at the top of their game.

However, as contagious and impressive as the roster on Gemini, Her Majesty is, it's surprising it's not a more immediate album. No, for whatever reason, it's a chore to hear the disco tinges at the beginning of "Penguin Marlin Brando" alongside the simplified Mandala reggae of "Meow! Meow! Space Tiger." It's immediately confounding that the rhythmic simplicity of "Stargazer" is followed by the bouncing surf-rock inspired riffs and high pitched crooning contained on "Fire to the Ocean." The moods and modes of Gemini vary wildly, even within the scope of a single track, yet somehow, after just enough listening, it all comes together quite well.

After five years of waiting for a Mandala follow-up it can be easy to jump the gun and judge Gemini, Her Majesty unfairly. Being built on the back of giants like Battle and Mandala can only set the highest of expectations and even a slight deviation can incite us to reject material as canon-breaking. But, given the time and attention it needs, Gemini, Her Majesty easily manifests as the album you expect and deserve from a group of consummate pros like the Rx Bandits. While many will undoubtedly state that the Bandits have lost their prog edge or "sold out" by incorporating so many catchy chorus phrases, it will take a close listen to piece out all of the variations and subtle twists and turns Gemini brings on her voyage toward dominating your daily listening. And rest assured, she'll make that journey whether you want her to or not. All it takes is one listen.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SnakeDelilah
July 23rd 2014


8729 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ROLF

Digging: The Antlers - Familiars

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 23rd 2014


2033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I went from a 4 to a 3.8 to a 4.5 on this real fast. I've been jamming this pretty much all day everyday since it started streaming and it only just clicked while I was writing the review.

I mean, hot damn did I not like "Stargazer" when it was first released, and just today I'm sure I interrupted someone's teleconference by whistling its vocal melody walking to my desk.

Digging: Damascus - When Last We Met

elephantREVOLUTION
July 23rd 2014


2784 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

still need to give this a couple more listens. can't wait to see them live in a few days too

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 23rd 2014


2033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ROLF


Edit: Any of the images I find seem to hate hotlinking.

SnakeDelilah
July 23rd 2014


8729 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

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heh

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
July 23rd 2014


13404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

album is really good

XingKing
July 23rd 2014


10958 Comments


This is about a 3.8 for me and I've listened to it about 10 times already

Maize
July 23rd 2014


155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

While I miss the Latin influences from Mandala, I'm still not sure if I like this album better or not

Taxt
July 23rd 2014


675 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still haven't fully absorbed it, but I think it's in that ballpark as well

MeatSalad
July 23rd 2014


14900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

should probably listen to this more before judging but i wasn't happy with that first listen at all

Digging: The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
July 23rd 2014


13404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yea

Maize
July 23rd 2014


155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Surprised you never mentioned "1995". That intro is just ridiculous.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
July 23rd 2014


13404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

1995 was a fav of mine

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 23rd 2014


2033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just know this is going to stick with me for a while. Greatly considered a 4, but it's really worth the 4.5 imo. A lot is going on here that's easy to miss.

Veldin
July 23rd 2014


1524 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"1995" is my favorite.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
July 23rd 2014


20077 Comments


Good review gotta check this out.

One small fix last sentence of review: *is one listen

Digging: Circa Survive - Descensus

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2014


10362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Been looking forward to reading this, man. Glad to see you enjoy the record so much.

I definitely like it, but it also feels a bit too simplistic for it to grow on me much more- I think I was the opposite of you in that I loved it on the first listen. Some tunes drag, and I miss the energy the other RX albums had, but this one's definitely cool in its own way.

fromtheinside
July 24th 2014


19029 Comments


i'm just here to comment after omaha and say "Ex-Lives"

Digging: Ibex Throne - Ibex Throne

emester
July 24th 2014


4230 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

First time i ever heard anything of these guys. So far i really like what im hearing


Digging: The Black Twilight Circle - Tliltic Tlapoyauak

Gyromania
July 24th 2014


15967 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is pretty enjoyable



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