A couple of months ago, The Ruben’s Hallelujah hit Australian rock radio. It hit hard and it has far refused to leave. It has also so far refused to get any less great. If someone described this song to me, I would I assume that I’d hate it. It’s very hook based, with a gimmicky chorus that’s easy for idiot commercial radio listeners to grab onto and not have to think too hard about. But I’ll be buggered if I don’t enjoy it every time it pops up. I’ve probably heard it at least once daily for the last three months and the novelty hasn’t worn off. Now it’s time to find out if it’s a fluke, or just one small part of something bigger and better, by listening to Hoops.
As the opening track on Hoops, I really hope Hallelujah isn’t a fluke, because I’ll be in for a long listen of that’s the case. The Night is on My Side is an interesting mix of old school, 70s rock instrumental sounds, and a very new millennium pop song vocal delivery. And for the most part, it works. The pop production values take away from some of the broodiness of the music, but there’s still enough there to stop it from becoming too modern and processed and Maroon 5-esque.
I don’t know if the title track has also been getting regular radio airplay, or if it just sounds familiar because it’s pretty similar to My Guns, the breakthrough single from their last album. But it definitely embraces the synthetic pop more than the analogue rock. It also relies a little too heavily on the gimmicks and hooks. On the upside, it makes the more organic sounds of Switchblade stand out even more for all the right reasons. It has a little more drive than the earlier songs, and only benefits from that added oomph.
One thing I wasn’t expecting from The Rubens or Hoops was a feel good, rock hand clapper that sounds like it’s direct from 1986. But that’s exactly what I got with Things About to Change. It has a positive vibe that the rest of this record is lacking. Not that it’s a downer in general, but the rock and roll cockiness of the majority of Hoops is a little too cool to be cheery.
Overall, The Rubens don’t do anything all that new, or different, or ground breaking, or fresh. But for all that, Hoops is never boring, or derivative, or all that easy to nail down either. They take common sounds and styles, and put just enough of their own twist on it to make it their own. And really, in 2015 when we cop so much of the same old, same old, that’s pretty commendable.