Reuben – Very Fast, Very Dangerous
It seems fairly evident that Reuben enjoys being the jokers of the pack. If you were going into listening to this album using the singles alone as evidence, you’d be forgiven for thinking Reuben have made a “Comedy Rock” album or whatever the appropriate term is. This is incorrect. What Reuben has actually produced on their second full length album is, one of the finest rock albums of, not only 2005, but for quite some time.
However, simply defining what “rock” is has become one major task now a-days. Write now the closest example would probably be The Darkness, but even they proved rock is long dead just by playing their songs in Dropped D tuning [/musician jargon]. What rock really is about is a heavier, guitar based adaptation of blues music. It’s a more aggressive version of blues, but the same passion and fairly simple lyrical content remains. They feature lyrics that simply tell it “like it is”. One fairly obvious example of this from the album would be ‘Good Night’ a fairly simple song about trouble getting to sleep, because your mind is racing, so in other words, not your average At the Drive-in or even Smiths song. Or take ‘Best Enemies’ which may sound like a cheesy title, but is a song to crack open and appreciate as one of Reuben’s best to date.
But that doesn’t take away the wit of this band, just because of their weird choice of singles. One of Britain’s finest exports into song writing is the ability to put subtle humour intro its lyrics. Considering only four years ago, when Reuben first emerged, they entered just as Nu-Metal started to die out, a genre fairly dominant in their early sound, but still managed to find that humour. Now, they have not only evolved and survived by being influenced by bands like Nirvana and Foo Fighters, but they’ve kept that early sound and make it even better. The first single, ‘Blamethrower’ is the perfect example of this. It is reminiscent of chugging metal riffs, a grunge sensibility, and some of the funniest lyrics you’ll hear all year. As a result, it and it’s shout a-long chorus “No I don’t, feel so ***ing good!” has become one of, if not the best anthem of the year.
What is most exciting about this album though, is the fact that Reuben are starting to experiment. Just like The Who or Led Zeppelin 35 odd years ago, they’re starting to turn fairly simple rock and pop songs into big, epic tracks. ‘Every Time a Teenager Listens to Drum & Bass a Rockstar Dies’ starts off as a mock drum n bass instrumental, into a nu-metal verse, which becomes a catchy chorus, and then suddenly a full blown orchestral ballad! All in just over 5 minutes! While ‘Alpha Signal three’ goes from a Converge hardcore scream-a-thon sound into a tribute to Green Day. Most notably though is 7 and a half minute epic, ‘Return of the Jedi’. This song actually replicates the “concept” idea that The Who loved, the experimentalism of Led Zeppelin, and even the recent Jazz influence displayed by the likes of Dillinger Escape Plan, as it tell the story of a half-fictional musician and songwriter who gets his dreams crushed and ends up having to get a “regular job”.
This isn’t a perfect album by any means though. Recent single ‘Keep it to yourself’ is one of the weakest outings the band has ever produced. Not only does it cheaply knock off the chorus of “Aneurysm” by Nirvana (one of Nirvana’s strongest yet outspoken songs) but its refrain of “Shut up, just shut up,” make’s you want to just say, “No, you shut up.” But this really can only be a sign that Reuben are only human and still improving. They’ve got a long way to go yet, but this is a HUGE step up from ‘Racecar is Racecar Backwards’ and they are starting to show some amazing potential. When you consider the fact that this album sounds like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Green Day, The Who and Led Zeppelin, it is pretty evident that this band have found a way to make themselves productive, and here’s hoping this can only continue.