Sound: The world can always use another excellent band who can't be placed in any one genre. With elements of grunge, emo, prog, punk rock and alot of plain good old rock 'n' roll and a couple of songs that border on metal, these guys have obviously had fun messing around, finding a style that fits them before struggling with difficulties getting their album recorded (they spent a year recording this in a friends home-made studio). Of the 16 songs on the album, not one could be classed as plain filler. Albums like this are hard to come by even "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was originally written to fill up "Nevermind."
Songs on "Racecar.." such as "Stuck In My Throat" and "Tonight My Wife Is Your Wife" are sufficiently heart-wrenching and desperate sounding to be classed as emo but the latter is immediately followed by the starkly contrasting, grungey-apathetic, 2-minute masterpiece that is "Eating Only Apples." The teenage audience may find the punk-rock honesty of "Parties Break Hearts" and "Lets Stop Hanging Out" very appealing, while the older, studenty-indie types may be more drawn to the slow, positive melody of "Moving To Blackwater" and "Song For Saturday." The album opens with the screamy, appealing rock 'n' roll song, "No One Wins The War" enough to get you hooked from the beginning, and ends with a slow, observational song about exhaustion and letting go, called "Dusk" with mumbled lyrics towards the end which make you feel more fulfilled having listened to the album. // 10
Lyrics: These are the most honest lyrics I've ever read, its as though Reuben recorded their album in a confessional. For instance, the first line from the song "Eating Only Apples" is "She kisses me like music - I don't pretend I don't like it." In the song "Parties Break Hearts" are the lyrics, "I got some action and I'm ready to go - I got a girlfriend but she don't gotta know." and perhaps the most directly honest is in "Oh The Shame" - "I lie and I cheat and I've turned down my dreams because I was too afraid." Even the simplest statement on this album becomes meaningful to the entire song "I got bored of you. I am so f--king bored" from "Our Song."
But it seems that having accepted his faults, Jamie Lenman then goes on to observe and fairly criticise other, unnamed people, especially in "Lets Stop Hanging Out" which starts "Of all the things that you do best, disaster makes you happiest" and finishes with a screaming, "You deserve to be with no one!" This criticism is continued in "Song For Saturday" - "I've been finding out, all these conclusions that you come to, are so paper thin that I can see through." and the most brutally honest of all, "So give it a rest, yeah? I don't like it. It's very excellent knowing I'm better than you."
I also love the desperate, shameless chorus of "Wrong And Sorry" where Jamie Lenman sings very slightly off-key, giving a serious, pleading tone when the lyrics are sung, "Please. Come home. Your heart won't break. Please. Come home. Just for my sake." And the one line from the whole which sums up and justifies the honesty and criticism in this album is the central lyric of the song "Missing Fingers" which goes, "Tourettes is a disease that makes you tell the truth. I have contracted it in the last days of my youth." The lyrics on this album show that even fairly basic, rhyming verse-chorus-verse patterns where thoughts are written straight down, are often more effective at putting a point across than any complicated novelist-standard poetic type lyrics. Straight out honesty is often more effective than the cryptic attempts alot of bands make at writing lyrics. // 8
Overall Impression: You can tell from one listen that so much effort has been put into this album - even if you don't like the music, you have to appreciate how this band have written and re-written songs until almost perfection before including them on the album. Its an astonishing debut, the most outstanding songs being "No One Wins The War," "Fall Of The Bastille," "Lets Stop Hanging Out" and "Wrong And Sorry." To sum up: no filler. 100% effort from the band. Wonderfully grungey and appealing to all alternative music fans. Buy it. // 10