Review Summary: transcending sadness (?)
When Movements dropped the now-standalone single “Cherry Thrill” in 2022, the general response wasn’t exactly overwhelmingly positive. While fans appreciated the certified sadbois branching out into, uh, sexier territory after two albums of sheer dread, Sputnikmusic dot com user JayEnder summed up the overall reception by stating that “Sad Pat > Horny Pat
”. In retrospect, the release of “Cherry Thrill” seems like a soft launch of the overall vibes of the band’s third album RUCKUS!
- after all, the single’s release was accompanied by them stating that “[...] if this particular song isn’t your thing, don’t trip! We’ve still got a whole record to show you
”. Now, one year later, that record is here, and the song in question has been left off its tracklist. Instead, RUCKUS!
boasts ten songs of varying quality that occasionally attempt to break away from Movements’ established sound by embracing a wider array of emotions… as well as an uncharacteristically unappealing album cover.
is better than its singles (all five
of them) implied, it exposes an unfortunate fact for many bands of Movements’ ilk: their music is at its best when it’s decidedly depressing. This is not exactly a shocking
revelation for a band whose music fits into a genre called emo, but it does show that moving on from depression is not just difficult on an individual level. The worst songs on RUCKUS!
are the ones where vocalist Patrick Miranda doesn’t rely on despair to convey emotion: his hornyposting in “Heaven Sent” is, unfortunately, truly off-putting: “You got the hottest touch / You got the sweetest taste / Don’t stop, keep the pace / You know you make me ache
”. Even the less explicit “Killing Time” fails to resonate due to its generic descriptions: “And now you got me in your trance / But maybe I can take the beating / Come on, hit me harder, I insist
” - a far cry from lyrics about pink cloud summers, dementia and total bodily disintegration.
Besides this, RUCKUS!
is decidedly less expansive than the band’s previous work: much of the record embraces a groovier, more immediate sound. While it’s a shame to find subtleties and gorgeous post-isms almost completely gone, Movements remain excellent musicians and make the straightforward songs stick with catchy if simplistic riffs and some of Miranda’s strongest recorded vocal performances. In fact, two of the band’s best songs to date can be found towards the end of RUCKUS!
’ tracklist: “Fail You”s brief three minutes are urgent and contemplative at once, boasting a huge chorus destined to be a highlight at live shows for years to come. Two songs onwards, “Dance With Death” manages to put everything else to shame as it showcases Movements at their most demanding - it’s a lyrical masterpiece enhanced by the loud
and bass-heavy production of the album as it marries harrowing meditations on young lives’ violent endings with equally abrasive sonic explorations. While RUCKUS!
throughout, the haunting storytelling of “Dance With Death” presents the one moment where its sonic aesthetics truly slot in with the band’s songwriting.
As excellent as these two cuts are, they are explicitly sad
, ultimately and unfortunately showing that Movements’ attempts to move on from despair are unsuccessful. That’s not to say the slicker experimentation of songs like “AMP” and “Tightrope” isn’t good
, but they simply don’t reach the same heights as the band at their most gloomy. It’s unfortunate: anyone would wish nothing but happiness for the band that wrote Feel Something
, and yet, it is hard not to selfishly hope they can hold on to a part of this darkness to continue making truly excellent music. As it stands, however, RUCKUS!
is a good album with some incredible songs - I wish it were more than that, but I’m sort of glad it isn’t.