It’s been just over three years since The Rubens released their debut self titled album - wowing everyone and gaining a legion of fans in the process. This year, they return with their new album Hoops. Their sophomore album sees them embrace a much mature sound, showing their growth within the last few years. Since it’s been a while between albums, many have questioned whether people are going to take notice. That’s a matter The Rubens need not worry about, and if anyone has forgotten what they’re about, Hoops will prove why they’re amongst this countries most talented.
The album opens up with their major single ‘Hallelujah’, which has been gaining a vast amount of radio play in recent months. The track sees them embrace a much more heavier and bolder rock sound. They’ve mentioned in the past that their approach to Hoops was creating a body of work that would transform into dynamic live performances - ‘Hallelujah’ certainly meets that criteria. Their recent performance at Splendour In The Grass also reaffirms it’s live appeal.‘The Night Is On My Side’ is about being young, single and not taking relationships seriously. The lyrics are just as suggestive, “The night ain’t on your side, but come to think of it, neither am I.”
The title track ‘Hoops’ is a first-rate example of The Rubens experimenting with diverse soul and r&b sounds. During this track frontman Sam Margin’s vocals are barely a croon, more like borderline speaking. This is effective though, as if his vocals were of the intensity of the album’s opener, then it would be overpowering. ‘Switchblade’ was written by Sam when he was drunk. He had forgotten he recorded the track and it took him a while before he could work out what was the meaning behind his inebriated words. The track's history does come through in it’s overall vibe, especially from the rawness and scratchiness of the guitar in it’s opening moments and Sam’s crooning. Opening with clicking and soft murmurs, ‘Bitter End’ is about a relationship spiralling out of control where everything has been ruined beyond the point where there is nothing left to save. The lyrics are just as stirring, especially the words “I got a battle with my mind”. ‘Cut Me Loose’ further shows their ability to fuse and mix elements of rock music and soul without it getting messy.
Without a doubt, Hoops’ biggest surprise is ‘Things About To Change’. The uplifting track, which features a driving upbeat rhythm is refreshing comparing to the gloom of much of their other lyrics. Not that emotional lyrics are an undoing - if anything they give the release depth, it’s just nice to hear a track that could slot in easily to your commute to work on a Monday morning. That’s how cheerful the track is, it could brighten the most dullest and disheartening of Mondays. With words such as “There’s lots of things to love about today”, it’s hard not to beam off it’s energy. You better enjoy the radiance of ‘Things About To Change’ for as long as you can with ‘Battles’ seeing them return to their aloof thoughts on love, especially with lines such as “Never fall In love”. Don’t be unnerved by the bleakness of their lyrics, they’re raw and represent the rollercoaster of emotions humans experience. Keep a listen out for Zaac’s electrifying guitar solo.
Just like many of the tracks on the album, ‘Hold Me Back’ also contains profound emotion. This track is about addiction - all kinds of addiction - and how it can affect their loved ones. A personal favourite is ‘The Original’, mainly due to the fact the first moment I heard it, I could visualise how remarkable it would be in a live setting. The closer ‘The Fool’, has the potential to become one of the album’s most popular singles if they decide to release it.
The Rubens have unleashed an album that doesn’t solely focus on being a great live album, but have created a body of work that contains depth and is sentimental, fierce and exhilarating. Hoops shows that they’ve thrived since their debut release. If you get the opportunity to catch them at their upcoming shows, then count yourself lucky that you’ll be able to witness this magic live.
Written by Amy Smolcic
The Rubens - Hoops
Release Date: August 7
Catch The Rubens on tour at the below dates: