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Music Review -- The Rentals Seven More Minutes
Available April 13th
What started as a side project for former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp recently became a full-time job as he formally departed from Weezer to focus entirely on The Rentals. The much awaited sophomore effort Seven More Minutes is chock full of guest appearances including Damon Albarn (Blur), Tim Wheeler (Ash), Donna Matthews (Elastica) and Petra Haden (that dog.). Though they've gone through a big change in their line up since their 1995 debut, The Return Of The Rentals, their sound is unmistakable. With a fondness for moog synthesizers and a big guitar sound, their power pop bounces along like a non-threatening version of Happy Fun Ball.
"Getting By" and "The Cruise" are the two tracks that most closely resemble those from Return Of The Rentals, sounding like a cross between garage punk and space age pop. But the album is not wholly reliant on the blips and bloops of their moog. "She Says It's Alright" is an acoustic twangy alt-country break up lament, aided by the angelic vocals of Petra Haden and also including a trombone and a little piano.
While the album was recorded in London, most of the writing for it was done in Spain, and much of this album is like getting a postcard from a vacationing friend. "Barcelona" has Sharp ticking off all the great things about being in Barcelona as opposed to elsewhere "Lost and lonely/I don't got much to go back to/Lost and lonely/drifting loosely on my own to Barcelona." And while it starts out as an up-tempo rocker, it slows into a dreamy spiral that almost seems like a natural progression based on the plaintive nature of the lyrics.
"Say Goodbye Forever" sounds like a direct riff on The Pixies, right down to the vocal contributions of Donna Matthews who sounds like she's channeling Kim Deal. Ironically, Sharp's last act with Weezer was to cover the song "Velouria" for an upcoming Pixies tribute album, so it doesn't come as much of a shock that he would borrow from them.
Taking a swing at britpoppy punk, "Big Daddy C" sounds like a Blur song--Which makes sense because Blur frontman Damon Albarn contributes vocals for the song. "Big Daddy C" seems to pick up where "On Your Own" and "Chinese Bombs" left off on the 1996 album Blur, but takes a turn with a more pronounced focus on blending the synthesized pop with guitar distortion.
Despite Sharp's departure from Weezer last year, "My Head Is In the Sun," a track co-written with Weezer's Rivers Cuomo shows up near the end of the album. Considerably more down-tempo than the rest of the album (as well as most typical Weezer songs), it's a melancholy track that contains the lyric which gave this album its name. And from the rest of the lyrics like "Silence in the Air/At the end of the affair/And everyone/silence in the Air/Don't know if I even care/About anyone," it's not hard to infer that much of it alludes to Sharp's break with his former band. It is also the most triumphant track on the album that shows off the band's versatility in a way that we haven't seen before.
While Seven More Minutes is a fairly inaccessible album on the first couple listens, it's clear that The Rentals have grown as a band both emotionally and musically. Sharp's voice is stronger that we've previously heard. While a lot of the album is an elemental mix of punk tinged pop, the more complex moments hint at the kind of potential the band may live up to in the future. It just goes to show you that there is indeed life after "Buddy Holly."