It’s been an unsteady few years, but Philadelphia group Bleeding Rainbow might finally be finding their footing. After two albums as twee noise-pop group Reading Rainbow, the group expanded its line-up to a quartet for last year’s Yeah Right as Bleeding Rainbow. The line-up/name change coincided with a new deliberate edginess; the kid-style vocals from Sarah Everton and Rob Garcia hardened up slightly, and the music gained a more aggressive shoegaze/power-pop (think My Bloody Valentine meets Superchunk) bite. The resulting album Yeah Right was a muddled transition that hinted that the band’s shakeup could work more than it did work.
Interrupt comes a scant year later, and has all of the hallmarks of a Quick Turnaround Second Album. The songs are a little punchier, the rhythms are tighter, the band sounds much more confident, and the tempo is a little manic; essentially everything about the group’s been marginally improved (see Arctic Monkeys’ Favourite Worst Nightmare or Room on Fire by The Strokes for other examples). These elements are more visible with Interrupt‘s comparatively clear production, which allows the little moments like “Tell Me”‘s poppy lead guitar or the furious drumming on the chorus of “So You Know” to shine through. These touches are essential because the frequent drawback of the Quick Turnaround Second Album is that it can sound a little same-y.
Even though the album’s tempo diverges from its initial breakneck pace, the sense of urgency never leaves the slower numbers like the shoegaze-heavy “Out of Line” and “Monochrome”, which focus more on textured soundscapes than the hooks. And Bleeding Rainbow manages to connect the faster speed with the more intricate songcraft on standout track “Cut Up”, which runs wild through MBV guitar tones, a stadium-sized alternative rock chorus, and slaphappy garage rock energy over a deceptively short four and a half minutes. If you were to sample Interrupt, “Cut Up” or urgent opener “Time & Place” would be great places to start.
I’m a fan of Interrupt, but I know full well that it has a number of flaws. The songwriting gets by on pleasant melodies and fun group vocals, not because Bleeding Rainbow is saying anything particularly great. The band’s energy and huge sound hides the fact that some of the hooks don’t stick around once the song is over, either. It isn’t really a problem here, but the largest hurdle for Bleeding Rainbows moving forward is that they’re (technically) four albums deep and still don’t have a signature sound to differentiate them from other lower mid-tier indie bands. Interrupt is their sturdiest album to date, and hopefully they’ll use it as a launch point going forward. Just as long as they don’t switch guitarists again, or get a synth player, or something.
If “Good, not great” is shorthand for competent/enjoyable if unremarkable works, then Interrupt is the most aggressively Good album I’ve heard in awhile. I know that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I mean it in the most flattering way possible; a record as Good as Interrupt–an approachable collection of songs made of easy to dispense thrills, and nothing more–is something to be celebrated. Granted, I might be a bit defensive because Interrupt‘s made of the kind of 90s indie/alt pastiche I could listen to for days, but in a way, you need rank and file genre albums like this every now and then. It’s the kind of simple album that makes you appreciate the Great albums when they come along, and something easy to listen to when you have a craving. For example, Interrupt hits the “noisy indie rock” mark, but without the transcendence of Japandroids, the high-intellect of Savages, or Cloud Nothings’ catharsis. It’s highly listenable, and there’s an understated value to that.
Interrupt clarifies Bleeding Rainbow’s sound more than it advances it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a failure or misstep. Actually, it’s exactly what the band needed right now; a batch of sturdy, confident songs with energy to spare. I could see Bleeding Rainbow pushing the edges of their sound more from here on out, going for spacier or harsher songs in the future, or I wouldn’t be surprised if we got an album like Interrupt every year or two. Either way, I’ll be sure to keep an eye on them, three and a half stars out of five.
tl;dr: Interrupt is an impressively Good slice of shoegaze-y power-pop, nothing more, nothing less. 3.5/5