Oh look, another new album from an artist you thought had died out in their early noughties heyday. In this case it’s one-man-band The Rocket Summer also known as Bryce Avary, who, even though he’s championed a more alt rock / indie sound of late, is probably best known for his earlier pop-rock guise and hits like Do You Feel.
And new album Zoetic (which means pertaining to life) is yet another example of an artist throwing as many different musical elements into a blender and serving the finished product as a tragic attempt to stay relevant. Avary plays every instrument on this record which is hugely impressive, but god does he want you to know it. On Get Over It, beatboxing, piano, a drum machine and guitar are all introduced separately within the first ten seconds. There’re no time for any of these elements to properly be able to breathe, so it all just sounds like a huge mess. It’s not a one-time thing, either, and there are far too many times where odd things are paired together and don’t give off the ‘quirky’ vibe that was obviously intended. There’s a reason beefy guitars with dark, dubsteppy wubs as a bassline, poppy handclaps and an interlude that sounds like some kind of nursery rhyme aren’t usually mixed together. Because it sounds beyond ridiculous.
Honestly, there isn’t really a properly solid song on this album. It’d be a shame because of the talent here, but it’s hard to feel any disappointment past the confusion and anger at half the stuff on here. Most of this emotion is sadly because of that age old problem with dated artists – leaving the right parts in the past and stubbornly keeping the wrong. Along with these ridiculous genre mashups a lot of the material here is far too twee and transparent. Combined with heavier aspects (which other publications have compared to Nine Inch Nails), synthy vocalising and Justin Timberlake-esque falsettos just don’t sit right.
There are some alright parts of Zoetic, to be fair. Opener Cold War is probably the only place where the weirdness, toned down as it may be, works, with piano, jarring guitars and staccato synths creating an interesting track that’s all too easy to get stuck in your head. FL, CA is a highlight too. As one of the rockier offerings on here, its funky melodies will probably get any listener who hasn’t lost all hope arriving at the second half of the record smiling.
But that’s really it. While Avary does have some great vocal moments on Zoetic (particularly his falsettos), they’re overshadowed by the predictable melodies they’re used to sing. But that’s nothing compared to the ridiculous shouts of “ow!” that plague half of the songs on here. It’s like he’s a kid trying to play ‘glam rock megastar’, not a man in his 30s who’s been doing this for over ten years. To give credit where it’s due, the instrumentation on here is well executed, and the fact that it’s all been done by one person makes it even more formidable. It’s just that most of it doesn’t go together. Just like, after this, The Rocket Summer doesn’t go with anyone’s iPods.
For fans of: Forever The Sickest Kids, Justin Timberlake, All Time Low
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Zoetic’ by The Rocket Summer is out now on Aviate Records.