Strange Ranger - Remembering The Rockets - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Strange Ranger - Remembering The Rockets

by Mark Moody Rating:6 Release Date:2019-07-26
Strange Ranger - Remembering The Rockets
Strange Ranger - Remembering The Rockets

Philadelphia’s Strange Ranger has been kicking around and fairly prolific over the past decade.  On their latest album, the fourteen songs and forty-plus minute Remembering The Rockets, the band loses its emo leaning tendencies in favor of a smorgasbord of retro approaches.  The album revels in the late 80s/early 90s heyday of jangly guitar rock, dream pop, and slacker tunes, with some lo-fi interludes along the way.  Unfortunately, the kitchen sink approach only produces a few sudsy bubbles along the way.

There are too many listless Cure-soundalike tracks like ‘Nothing Else To Think About’ or the churning ‘Beneath The Lights’ that grind along but never go much of anywhere.  Like those, many of the songs trail off into extended instrumental outros as if band leader Isaac Eiger ran out of things to say along the way.  The opening track ‘Leona’ is innocently sing-songy enough, but clunky lyrics like “I can still taste your kisses, never want to do the dishes” drag it down.  While bassist Fred Nixon's attempt to make it sound like he really doesn’t care on tracks like ‘Ranch Style Home’ just come off as out of step.  Same with the heartfelt but off-kilter ‘Cold Hands Warm Heart’ that closes out the album. 

On the bright side, there are a few gems sprinkled here and there.  The heady jangle-pop of second song, ‘Sunday’, would have made for a bracing opening track both today and back in 1992.  Tight and tuneful, it does make you long for the simplicity of an earlier era.  The earnestly sung and elegantly understated ‘Pete’s Hill’ also stands out particularly from where it is sequenced.  And until it starts to fade off, Fiona Woodman’s vocal turn on ‘Message To You’ is a nice interlude while also pointing to the anything-goes approach.    

All in all, Remembering The Rockets suffers from quantity over quality given the band’s level of output and the mish-mash of approaches doesn’t help its cause.  Some of the songs may have worked as one-off singles and would no doubt garner praise as part of a live set.  But they are offered up here as a disjointed set of parts that just don’t come together in any discernible way.  Sadly in spite of the thrown-together feel, a modern-day Wowee Zowee this is not.        

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