The old cliché is “the third time’s the charm,” but that’s not for Rooney and their third album, Eureka, out last week. After two successful albums with Interscope and well-received singles like “Popstars”, “I’m Shakin”‘, and “When Did Your Heart Go Missing”, the retro-pop band (named after the principal in Ferris Buller’s Day Off) had its own change of heart, moving to own independent label, California Dreaming Records. However, if you’re expecting a strong statement, prepare to be disappointed. Eureka is not the ode to old-fashioned independence the band would like you to believe.
The album starts out well enough, with catchy but weightless pop rockers “Holding On” and “I Can’t Get Enough.” The outstanding production is similar to the previous albums, with electric guitars supplemented by a robust horn section. Rooney has always drawn their inspiration from hooky legendary vintage bands like The Cars and The Beatles, but it seems like their muses where in short supply this time. While the previous albums were masterful collaborations that demonstrated their skill in both song construction and acoustics, Eureka‘s main claim to fame is it’s untraditional but classic style of recording. Perhaps bringing the production and engineering in-house to their own label didn’t leave the band with enough time to concentrate on the song writing.
The band regresses lyrically on this effort, with meaningless rhymes like “I like what you wear, I like how you move. If I was staring, it’s because I’m in the mood” on the track “I Can’t Get Enough.”
Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen changed the lyricism many pop generations ago, but these guys still write as if “She Loves You” was as developed as pop poetry needs to be. Musically, the few stabs at creativity come off as dangerously hollow – “The Hunch” is an attempt at an experimentally peppy sound, but the staccato vocals and random instrumental flourishes come off as almost cacophonous, if not completely heavy-handed.
There are a few strong moments among the bunch, with “All or Nothing” and “I Don’t Want to Lose You” recalling past glories of their self-titled effort and follow up Calling The World. However, those are the highlights, and they’re simply not very high. There is simply a noticeable absence of memorable hooks, impassioned vocals, and catchy lyrics.
Overall, the album is a solid tribute to a California summer, something to listen to while lounging around the pool or driving with the top down to the beach. But that is all it is. Eureka is mediocre, and even lackluster, and upon closer inspection the listener’s enthusiasm will quickly dwindle. Leave this one resigned to the bargain bin, or whatever passes as the bargain bin in the iTunes age, and steal the albums that Rooney hopes to emulate from your parents’ record collection. Calling Rooney, fans and critics alike want to know when your heart went missing.
To form your own opinion watch Rooney perform at Urban Lounge June 28, or visit their website rooney-band.com/news.