Album Review: The Rubens – ‘Lo La Ru’

Off the back of Hoops’ success, both as an album and as a single, Menangle’s favourite five-piece have been busy cultivating a unique sound and a following across the nation. After finalising an east-coast regional tour, in which they showed some love to towns that don’t often get blessed with big-ticket-acts, The Rubens have been hard at work spreading the love of the traditionally difficult third album.

Lo La Ru is without a doubt a sound progression for the band, as they move into an aura incorporative of RnB tones and rhythms. This takes centre stage in opening single ‘Million Man’, as the bass and rhythm guitars slip into grooves whilst the vocals create a sing-along feel, which rises again in sixth track ‘God Forgot’.

Fifth track ‘Freakout’, with its driving percussion set and up-beat vocals, and ‘Million Man’ appear to be first-half markers of the album’s melancholic vibe. This is encapsulated in the brooding sounds of ‘Go On’, the harsh lyrics and sombre piano of ‘Never Ever’, and the grim-reality faced by ‘God Forgot’. A slightly darker outlook has been set by The Rubens, with a more pessimistic side of life being contemplated.

Despite this somewhat bleaker perspective it is clear that the band were keen on continuing the RnB sound precedents set in the opening track. ‘Caspar’s’ sleek baseline and grooving percussion is just one example, while its lyrics regarding Satan only further the biblical associations born in ‘God Forgot’.

The album’s sound is a progression from the band’s previous work, with ‘SOSO’ different again in its underlying synthesizer rhythms, while maintaining a catchy, looping, sing-along chorus. Despite this sonic progression, however, a departure of mood within each song can also be noted, as Sam Margin’s lyrics appear to be targeted towards more of the negative in life rather than the positive.

Despite the overall downbeat feel of the lyrics, selective tunes remain somewhat up-beat in sound through the use of altering guitar timbres. This is prominent in penultimate tune ‘Teeth’, where smooth-grooving vocals rise above strumming metallic rhythm guitars to create an uplifting aura. Finished by multiple vocalists serenading the listener, ‘Teeth’ can easily be seen as the surprise hit with its infectious and vibrant tune.

The album as a whole can be summed up in the final song ‘All My Dollars’. In this track, you can hear the upbeat, grooving sounds being matched to lyrics that aren’t on the same-positive wavelength. Additionally, the second-half of the seven-minute song is slowed all the way down in order to focus on the darker feelings experienced throughout the creative process.

Where such feelings were born from is unknown, but The Rubens must be commended on their insistence not to rest and capitalise on the success of songs prior, but to move forward in a direction incorporative of new sounds, styles, and sentiments.

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