Ultra Feel | review
This is the second Rubber album, following quickly on the heels of their self titled debut last year.
It signaled the change of style of Harem Scarem's classic rock roots, to a new modern rock sound, in the vein on the new breed of melodic pop rockers SR-71, Neve, Marvelous 3, Everclear and even Matchbox 20.
The debut was a long way from the classic Scarem sound, but retained Harry and Pete's awesome grasp of a catchy tune and for those willing to take the step with them, was a rewarding and enjoyable record.
On Ultra Feel the guys make a small turn once again. The album is still firmly planted in modern rock and is as always expected, full of ultimately catchy rock songs, but there is a subtle difference.
This is a little closer to the classic sound of Harem Scarem.
No, it's not a return to the sound of any previous album as such, it's still most definitely a follow up to the Rubber debut, but there are hints of the rock anthem ways of the old band. Just check out Spinning Around and Happiness. Then play Forgive, easily one of the best songs of recent times and classic anthem rock, with a modern edge. Another Nail In My Heart leads off the Canadian version of this album. The Japanese version uses an alternative running order and drops this track in favor of another new song Draggin' Me Around. Another Nail has already been released in Japan - featured on their Japanese exclusive release Last Live.
If you haven't heard it - it's a cover of the Squeeze classic and is done perfectly in tune with the style of the band. Hook filled modern rock.
Hopeless is a wonderfully infectious rocker with a slightly harder edge than the modern pop rock angle the guys have chosen.
In The End is a Pete Lesperance sung track that mirrors the song Trip - his effort off Rubber's debut. It's one of the trendier cuts off the album.Running Away is a cool slightly psychedelic ballad, with a slight Beatles influence and also similar to their track Everybody Else - just better!Spinning Around takes up where Hopeless left off. Upbeat, rocking, catchy as hell and sees Harry Hess with one his most raw vocal efforts since Mood Swings - just with the modern rock musical backing of Rubber's style.
Happiness is another killer modern rocker, with Pete at the mike again. I like this better than any of his vocal tracks so far. It's catchy and typically hook filled.No Doubt is a little different. The song is far more pop based - being a happy little feel good number with jangley guitars and a non confrontational drum sound and a moody-ish verse and a brighter chorus.
Over The Edge is a mid tempo, passionate modern rock ballad. The sound is not unfamiliar to those extra tracks added to Harem Scarem's Best Ballads compilation and could also feel at home on Big Bang Theory. Another great melodic anthem.
Then the knockout blow! Forgive is quite simply the best track the band have done in years. Catchy as hell from the first listen, this is the closest thing to the classic Harem Scarem sound the band have recorded. Easily at home on the band's last couple of album's, Harry sounds in great aggressive vocal form.
Everything You Do is another Pete Lesperance track and sees the guys finish the album with another uptempo pure modern pop rock track. Cool track again, but it's very hard to follow up the classic previous track.
And that's it - all over and done with inside just over 35 minutes! Despite the far too short length of the album, every moment is brilliant in it's quality of songwriting.
As for hooks - per ratio there are more per minute on Ultra Feel than on the Rubber debut and many other melodic rock releases out there. I will be interested in hearing the Japanese release. They have had a tendency to get the running order a little wrong, but as they open with the album's stronger tracks and add another new one, it might just be a better listen. I have that CD on order - stay tuned for the verdict! BOTTOM LINE: Another classic album from two of the best songwriters of the melodic rock genre. Personal taste will dictate whether you care to venture into the modern rock scope, but if you liked the first Rubber album, this is even better with a little harder edge to it.
Similarly, if you are listening to Marvelous 3 or SR-71, Neve, Tsar or any of the new breed of rock n rollers, this album will sit easily along side them and could possibly be a favorite pick of the bunch.
Originally posted at melodicrock.com