Reuben are my favourite band. I reckon they always will be too; in my relatively short-lived music obsession Reuben are the longest standing favourites – I got into them in late 2006, shortly before their split and I’ve literally just fallen deeper in love with them as the years go on. The band’s story begins in the late 90s, and several name changes and lineup switches later, in 2004, Reuben released their debut album Racecar Is Racecar Backwards. Criminally underappreciated, the record had two singles, “Moving To Blackwater” and “Freddy Kreuger” which charted decently for a band of their credo and allowed them to be nominated for Kerrang’s Best British Newcomer Award.
The record is in my opinion, a British classic. We open with the blistering “No-One Wins The War”, a blasting drum intro into one of Reuben’s trademark discordant riffs, and lyrics discussing vocalist Jamie Lenman’s approach to life as well as their contemporaries: “Hell is for heroes/They got another single out/They’re my contemporaries/A top 40 smash no doubt”. For the rest of the 48 minutes of the album, you’re hooked. Reuben’s literally perfect balance between heavy and melody (which literally every band you listen to will talk about when discussing their newest albums) was struck in their debut, and is so fascinating, particularly in combination with the ambitious spectrum of songs – the fact that “Missing Fingers” and “Horror Show” are on the same record is astonishing. With Horror Show’s ambling drum beat and alt-rock guitar work, it seems like the record would be just another British indie disaster – but Horror Show’s got these nuances to it that makes it far and above better than any other British rock band around at the time.
Guy Davis’ complex drumming is present in every song, from the truly insane “Fall Of The Bastille” to the simple, but effective “Parties Break Hearts”, his off-kilter brand of drumming is consistent – making even the simplest, cleanest riffs sound heavy if he wants them to. Few drummers can actually build atmosphere on top of rhythm. Jon Pearce’s bass is just as worthy of the classic status I impose on Reuben – with beautiful interpolations when the guitar stops, and a healthy thickness to every guitar riff that we hear, the bass feels like a rhythm guitar. Jamie Lenman’s guitar work is incredible, playing in a variety of tunings and styles to produce really nice, quilted guitar sounds that are at once warm and sharp – the closer, Dusk’s transition from bluesy strumming to a heavy as fuck riff that doesn’t at any point sacrifice the melancholy note of the song.
The lyrics are amazing, finding a suitable line to represent the album’s mastery is a task in itself, but I chose Dusk’s upset, bitter tones: “So you are beginning to choke/How can you not see the joke?/The sound of your voice still rings in my ears/it’s tired and angry/and quiet all these years/the situation/it tears us apart/we joke about it/make jokes of ourselves”. My love for this album spans seas, cities, space. If you do one thing today, have a listen to at least a couple of tracks from this simply amazing album.
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