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Rubella - Gallows Humor - Eleventh Hour Recording Company - 8 songs - LP
If we are to make assumptions based on the "r 60" that appears on the insert, I believe this is Rubella's 60th release, which is pretty impressive. It's pretty weird that this is on Eleventh Hour, making Rubella label mates with Bill Fox, since this is not in any way folky. It's more of an electronic alternative rock thing, with some songs slipping more towards punk, some with an industrial feel, and some, weirdly, towards pop. Songs like "Hungry Horses" and "Short Breaths" are almost songs I could hear playing on a different universe's version of whatever the alternative rock radio station is. I was told there was no guitar on this record and I have to agree. I also realized at some point that almost none of the lyrics rhyme, but you barely notice. The lyrics tend to be somewhat, shall I say, edgy, but not in a bad way. It works with the music. Also, in the first song, they reference the Hilliard Bridge, which makes this record solidly more local than most of what I review here. At certain times (especially on the opening track, "Trust Falls"), I'm reminded a bit of Brainiac, but with some of the manic energy replaced by a more resigned feel– especially in terms of the vocals; where Brainiac would have falsetto and yelps, Rubella have a weary almost-monotone– which, again, does work with the overall feel of the record. The songs all seem like they were pieced together very intentionally, and as a whole, the record works well as an album. There's a certain mood you have to be in to listen to this kind of thing, I think, but when you're in that mood, it's not bad. 3.5/5
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