The Rubens, Luca Brasi, The Staves: New album reviews


ALTERNATIVE

The Rubens, 0202

(Ivy League) ***1/2

Twenty twenty turned the world on its head, now The Rubens return the favour with the title of their fourth studio album. And it continues the band’s evolution from straightforward indie rockers to more experimental, groovy artists. From the funky opening strains of Masterpiece, Sam Margin‘s voice remains one of the most distinctive in modern music, not unlike that of Marcy Playground’s John Wozniak. There are the brassy effects of the clappy Heavy Weather, while Live in Life and Time of My Life remain upbeat in the face of everyday challenges, and Thank You is a bittersweet break-up note. The album peaks with the tempo-shifting Muddy Evil Pain. “I, I care too much/And you, you don’t give a f—-,“ Margin sings on the exotic, tropical-sounding Holiday. There’s the synthy, strummy Explosions before Beatlesque keyboard ballad Party tests Margin’s vocal range to close proceedings.

ALTERNATIVE

Luca Brasi, Everything is Tenuous

(Cooking Vinyl) ***

With a more-than-passing resemblance to the likes of Jebediah or Green Day, Tasmania’s Luca Brasi are among the vanguard of power pop/modern punk acts with that melodic accessibility. “We all need to be wanted, be needed/It’s the only reason we are breathing,” is the anthemic chant on album highlight Remiss of Me. Led Astray is about trying to maintain connections amid the hurly burly of modern existence, while another highlight is a guest turn from fellow Tassie-based singer Kat Edwards, who lends her considerable vocal prowess to mesmerising closer Sea Sick. And they’re not without the occasional moment of quieter reflection, like Restless, which builds to power-ballad proportions.

ALTERNATIVE

The Staves, Good Woman

(Warner/Atlantic) ***1/2

This all-girl UK trio at times recall Aussie female-heavy group The Jezabels. And their fifth album finds their harmonies in full flight, as on feel-good highlight Best Friend. There’s the sweeping synth and marching percussion of Careful, Kid, sweet harmonies and barely perceptible didgi-drone of Nothing’s Gonna Happen, while another highlight is the pulsing, synthy, snappy-clappy Devotion. “I’m sorry, you should be sorry too,” they chant on Trying, which segues into subdued outro Waiting On Me to Change. It’s a set that grows and reveals more with each listen, and will have the uninitiated reaching for their back catalogue.



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