It's been three years since Antipodean quintet The Rubens released their platinum debut album. Now, ready to take on the world, the band releases their second album Hoops, their first in the UK. The title track has already clocked up 10 million plays on Spotify and You Tube, and with plenty of festival appearances lined up Hoops really is a
So what of the music? The band has certainly matured with their sound. There's a vintage twang to their music, but it's decidedly modern thanks to some selective yet soulful programming. It's overflowing with a street swagger, youthful angst, and enthusiasm.
The album opens with Hallelujah, an absolute ace of a track. Its chorus is simple, but certainly evangelical. The follow on Night Is On My Side maintains the confidence and of youth as Sam Margin nonchalantly drawls through a night on the town. Zaac Margin's guitar work gives it a lazy r & b feel which really adds to the dynamics of the track.
Things take a darker turn from here with some raw and violent lyrics. Hoops might have a hip-hop style riff and be but underneath this is the start of some depressive lyrics about relationships going sour and the inevitable fall out. Bitter End focuses on a couple tearing each other apart during a breakup. Sam's tiresome vocal, expresses defeat as he sings "I guess you're hungry for revenge" resided to his fate, the song's mournful refrain carries the track emotion through. Cut Me Loose grows in confidence with another rejoicing religious swing to it. The organ and roots bass line really give the track a gospel vibe. The only thing missing is a choir, which would have been pretty awesome.
"Never ever fall in love" Sam cries out in Battles. Whilst the pain is still there it's a song which acknowledges the wounds of the past but pushes forward anyhow. Hold Me Back is a perfect partner-song focusing on addictions and the self-denial used to restrain yourself. It could be drugs, booze or in this case love that clearly has given him his battle scars.
It's not all doom and gloom. The original is an inspiring alternative love song about breaking away from the norm. The Fool rounds off the album with as much of a bang as it started; with a growling retro guitar riff, gutsy vocals and a grooving vibe The Rubens have clearly made their mark. Who said the second album is the tough one anyway?