The Rocketboys may be an indie band, but on their second full-length album, Build Anyway, they hardly sound like one. Atmosphere is everything in the Austin, Texas, band’s sound, and Build Anyway delivers plenty of that – there are big-time anthemic choruses, vocal harmonies all over the place, and it all comes through loud and clear, without any hint of lo-fi scuzz. Fortunately, none of it ever feels too calculated; these guys are good at setting their mood, and it helps that they’ve put together a nice set of songs to dress into what, ultimately, is a solid semi-mainstream rock sound.
Build Anyway is an album full of moods. Though a few notable moments of optimism come through in the group’s lyrics, it’s the darker moments that shine most: times when singer Brandon Kinder is standoffish, despairing, cathartic or self-critical. On the opening track, “Bloodless,” he eerily sings, “I was a paper mache house with a match under it/Now I’m a brand new ghost town.” Soon, he and the rest of the band leap into an abrupt, guitar-driven chorus that sets the stage for many effective dynamic shifts to come. In “Time is a Devil,” he sounds like he’s priming to rip into a former love who left him before suddenly deciding, “I don’t wanna talk about it.” “Marching to the Palace” has a similar controlled anger: “Let me explain if you don’t understand it/This isn’t going the way that we planned it/And it’s not my fault.”
Though things get plenty loud during the album’s biggest crescendos, the Rocketboys aren’t a crew that’s going to rock out on you. Occasionally, their melodic flow, pacing and dynamic shifting bring Coldplay to mind. In fact, “Carry Me,” one of the album’s highlights, sounds like something that Chris Martin and Co. would make into a huge, inescapable hit. But even if you’re one of those who’s not fond of Coldplay’s form of songcraft, chances are you’ll like these guys’ version of it better.
At their best, the Rocketboys produce an engrossing power, and they’re even capable of giving you goosebumps. If there’s a major complaint, it’s that there’s not much stylistic diversity here; again and again, the guitar backing forms a driving wall, vocal harmonies swoop and fall, and Kinder’s vocals are at the forefront. For some, it might sound a little overproduced. But these songs are focused – none of them go over five minutes – and the lyrics stay direct. Build Anyway is accessible, enjoyable ambient rock from a band that has a good understanding of how to take that genre and make a good record out of it.
The Rocket Boys are currently on tour with Bearcat and are making a stop in Kansas City on September 2nd at Riot Room. Check back for our recap of the show or better yet check em out yourself. (See tour dates below)
The Rocketboys- Build Anyway
- Marching to the Palace
- Time is a Devil
- Walking on Fire
- These Are Hard Times
- A Liar
- Carry Me
- Someday Soon
- Hallowed Ground
- The Best