Romance and rebellion. They’re harder to deal with than the chill version of R&R, but – juxtaposed or otherwise – often more rewarding. Listening to Romance & Rebellion is a nice happy medium, as displayed by their self-titled debut EP which came out last week. The Los Angeles-based pop rockers dish out equal doses of rock and sweetness across six catchy tracks.
Romance & Rebellion opens with “The Next Best Thing”, which introduces itself with clap-worthy drums reminiscent of the 60s. An overall upbeat, driving sound is punctuated nicely by a solo that duels itself in the latter half. Up next is “Vanity Fair”, which features a descending keyboard riff. The feel-good track praises the subject for her awesomeness, and includes chorus gang vocals that seem oddly placed but still work nicely (because who doesn’t love a good “HEY!” right?). “The James Hotel” follows with a solid blast of indie rock, picking up the pace again for a raw, almost lo-fi effort that I’d say is my favourite on the EP.
The second half of Romance & Rebellion starts with unabashed ballad “Empty Space”. Lamenting a breakup happens over a stripped-down sound that’s driven (using that term loosely I suppose?) by drums. Debut single “More Than Friends” revives the tempo afterwards, featuring really simple-but-awesome guitars that make nice use of octave chords and high notes. The one-sided love song features my favourite line: “I’d rather live alone than die in the friend zone”. Finally, “Thanks For The Memories” wraps up the EP with acoustic guitar and a string section (!). The song itself reminisces, and fittingly it works to do that for the entire effort as an ideal closer.
Self-titled releases are most often debuts because they simply introduce us to the artist. That said, we now know Romance & Rebellion for their beautifully sheened pop rock that lends itself to both power and melody. The tempo alternates song by song, and frontman David LaViola’s vocals beautifully work the upper register throughout. Noted producer Stefan Litrownik also helped ensure an overall solid debut from the four-piece, an easy sonic ride that’s more carousel than rollercoaster.
Romance & Rebellion online: