Review Summary: Brimming with melody and bursting with energy.
For those who don’t know, The Rentals are headed by former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp. That’s also about where the similarities between the two bands end. Described as new wave, power pop, indie, or alternative rock, The Rentals seem to cover a wide range of genres – but I’d simply describe them as refreshing
. In an era where artists strive to sample as many genres as possible, nearly to the point of parity, The Rentals are comfortable just plugging away in their own niche. There’s something to be said for awareness of one’s true identity, and when a band discovers its ideal style, it can be a beautiful thing to behold. Considering that The Rentals last released a full-length in 1999, it’s all the more impressive that Lost In Alphaville
sounds so crisp, inviting, and one hundred percent caught up with the times.
After remaining mostly dormant for fifteen years, Lost In Alphaville
is a reawakening for this band. They’ve managed to craft a piece that sounds elated, yet full of complexity and emotional depth. The triumphant aura of this record stems from a mix of contemplative, heart-on-sleeve male vocals and mesmerizing choral/backing female vocals that elevate The Rentals to a level that not many other indie bands have been able to ascend to. ‘1000 Seasons’ is the track that best showcases this, with an accessible give and take between Matt Sharp’s verses and Lauren Chipman’s choral harmonies. That’s generally the formula for success here, and even though all the songs essentially conform to those strengths, no two moments are the same. The Rentals appreciably keep things varied, and it plays to Lost In Alphaville
Perhaps the best song on the whole album, ‘It’s Time To Come Home’ immediately gets a chance to show the band’s colors during the opening track. It’s slower than most of the songs here, but it perfects the blend of moody alt-rock and funky, groovy vocals. Complete with backing ba-ba, ba-da
’s, it surprisingly never sounds cliché. That’s basically The Rentals in a nutshell – not really rocking the metaphorical boat of ideas, but still managing to make waves. The electric guitars buzz with a youthful energy, the drumming actively keeps pace throughout, and there’s almost always one identifying quirk to set each track apart from the herd. Speaking of standing out, it would be criminal not to mention ‘Thought of Sound’, a track that embodies all of Lost In Alphaville
’s best traits in one tidily composed, insanely infectious package. While it exemplifies what this band and record is all about, it is still only a microcosm of what they are. Every song on this album stands strongly on its own, presenting unique virtues. That’s the kind of album that doesn’t come along every day, and when it does, it makes you take notice.
The Rentals deserve ample praise for Lost In Alphaville
. As one of the year’s most vibrant and youthful records, it is also one of the most surprising comebacks. It’s never easy to return to relevance after a decade and a half of absence, but The Rentals do it here while sounding completely natural. Brimming with melody and bursting with energy, The Rentals have made a statement album out of Lost In Alphaville
. Those who afford this the attention that it so richly deserves will be rewarded.