Ringlets
Ringlets


4.0
excellent

Review

by figurehead of "built different" EMERITUS
October 20th, 2023 | 21 replies


Release Date: 04/03/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Music to flatten boxes in carparks to

Ringlets are not a very big deal– they have less than 300 likes on Facebook and, as far as I can tell, have never performed live outside their native New Zealand– but on their self-titled debut full-length, they already sound like your favorite band’s favorite band. They play chiming, lightly caustic melodic rock a la The Jam/Modern English, and they play it with such crisp professionalism and sprightly detail that you’ll scarcely believe these songs aren’t some long-lost gems of the early-80s punk scene, let alone the products of a creative unit less than 3 full years old. Call it a timely poptimist take on the noodly post punk graverobbing recently favored by jabronis like Squid and Model/Actriz, or, better yet, call it a damn great batch of chuuuunes.

Though Ringlets is a full-band effort through and through, if any one star emerges across its ten tracks, it’s surely László Reynolds, every inch the guitar hero an album of this particular style can make shine. Call it the Thayil touch; Reynolds seems blessed by a preternatural ability to wind tricky odd-time fills and rangy chord skronk around bright, bouncy hooks, bind together song sections that scarcely belong in the same building together, and make it all seem like the most natural thing in the world. Key points include the spiraling Van Halen lick slashing open the chorus of opener “I Used to Paint,” the warmup-morphing-into-an-atmosphere of "She’s An Ascetic", and the little curlicue pull-off he embellishes the raucous intro riff to “Sever” with— wildly entertaining and earwormy to boot. His whiz-kid chops provide cheeky style and personality aplenty atop the rock-solid rhythmic foundation of bassist Arabella Poulsen and drummer Arlo Grey, who keep pace admirably at every turn and form the backbone of head-bobbing groovers like “Boundless Heart” and the Poulsen-led “Made of Mist”.

That leaves frontman Leith Towers with the tall order of tying it all up nicely with naught but some compelling poetry and/or vocal melodies, and though he really does do a mighty fine job overall, his verbose musings and oft-dry delivery does skew several shades more love-it-or-leave-it than his bandmates’ accompaniments do. Morissey comparisons are not beyond the pale, for good and for ill. Far as I’m concerned, Towers earns his keep with some impressively tightly-turned phrases. Case in point: "She’s An Ascetic"'s "I heard her tell time to slow down / The once-fleeting seconds swelled and grew / We leaned into the groove” (placed right before a brief switch to a heavier groove, natch). Not to mention the front-to-back genius of "I Used to Paint," somehow every bit as funny as it is wrenching as it is straight-up iconic (I USED TO PAINT, NOW I’M JUST ANOTHER NEUROSURGEON!!!). He’s a generally likable performer, too, and with the aid of some tasteful (and very New Wave) reverb courtesy of producer De Stevens, choruses like "Snitch Olympics" and "Fever Dream In Broken Swedish"'s really stand out and stick in that anyone-can-sing-right-along way. If "My sleep paralysis demon’s a thirty-six year old graphic designer / Axel, the L follows the E" hits your ear as clunky or precious, though, well, don't say I didn't warn ya.

Ringlets' trim 33-minute runtime means any duds have ample opportunity to throw wrenches in works; the lowlights underscore some inattentive track sequencing more than anything else. Namely, "I Am Pudding" and closer "Born Angry" make for a more muted end than a record with this much sheer crackerjack WOW potential deserves, and "Nightmared" would sit much better as a late-game swerve into all-out jitter than as the track-two frantic-display-of-range it actually is. Still, three just-okay songs against seven good-to-fantastic ones? Not too shabby at all, especially for the budget price of seven cheap-o New Zealand dollars on Bandcamp (if you’re the streaming sort, I again point to the low low TIME investment of 33 minutes).

If the names I’ve dropped here and in the recommended section are ones you enjoy, Ringlets is really about as safe a bet as they come— especially The Jam, whose workmanlike catchiness and terse power-chord exclamations are venerated with gusto here. What the band pulls off in their finest moments, though, rises a cut above faithful aping. When "She’s An Ascetic" returns to its hook to find it transformed, wide-open and triumphant, when "Made of Mist"'s motorik verse downshifts into its breathless, tumbling chorus, Ringlets grasps the essence of the greats whose footsteps they follow in with near-equal nuance: fat-free, witty anthems for average joes and students of the indie game alike.




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user ratings (10)
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Kompys2000
Emeritus
October 20th 2023


9489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

shout out mars for reccing me this and for polishing up a few blunders



I USED TO PAINT, NOW I JUST SCREW LIDS ON IN A FACTORY

MarsKid
Emeritus
October 21st 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

MY SLEEP PARALYSIS DEMON'S A THIRTYSIXYEAROLD GRAPHICDESIGNER

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2023


10307 Comments


Good words pos

Television in the recommended section got me curious

Kompys2000
Emeritus
October 21st 2023


9489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's def more poppy than television but I'd be willing to bet Reynolds is a Tom Verlaine fanboy

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
December 21st 2023


26419 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Me fucks with it

MarsKid
Emeritus
December 21st 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Hell yes, Ringlets bump

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
December 21st 2023


26419 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

That opener is sucha stomper

Ryus
December 21st 2023


37475 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ya that one and sever were my favs on first listen

CugnoBrasso
December 21st 2023


2787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mars gave 2.5 to my band this year but credit where credit's due, this absolutely bangz.

Kompys2000
Emeritus
December 22nd 2023


9489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wait u put out stuff this year



Link it up homie I'll 2.5 that shit too

MarsKid
Emeritus
December 22nd 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

tfw called out in the club

CugnoBrasso
December 22nd 2023


2787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is so good that it doesn't deserve my mindless self-promotion.

I love that it's so entertaining upon first listen, but the more you dig, the more you find new details to enjoy. I'm rarely impressed by indie rock nowadays, but this is good stuff.

CugnoBrasso
December 23rd 2023


2787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Edited my previous comment. Also, potentially AOTY material for me.

Also, LOL at the blast beat in 'I Am Pudding'.

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2023


26419 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Made of Mist is so fricken good tooo

CugnoBrasso
December 23rd 2023


2787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yahhp I love the effects on on the guitar in Made of Mist and how the bass line fits in that atmosphere.

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2024


26419 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Cant believe this dint catch on more

CugnoBrasso
May 25th 2024


2787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

New single out, hopefully this means a new album is on the way.

Kompys2000
Emeritus
July 17th 2024


9489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh hell yeah

CugnoBrasso
July 17th 2024


2787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awwww when I saw you commented I was hoping they announced a new album.

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
July 17th 2024


26419 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

How’s the single?



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