Rubber | review

This album is really very good, but it's surely not what most of the fan base are looking or hoping for and definitely not what they would prefer to hear.
The success of this project will depend on Harem Scarem's fans being as willing to throw off the past and move in a new direction as they are.
Unfortunately I can't see too many old fans wanting to move in the direction on show with this new album.
The band are in that familiar bind of risking their traditional fan base to move in a more commercially friendly direction. How many times did we see bands try grunge? How many times did it work?
I think Harem Scarem have done the right thing in changing their name, because it will mainly be a new audience that will find this album appealing.
Die hard Scarem fans will buy it, listen and maybe even enjoy it. Then talk about how classic the band's first twoalbums were and how they wish for another like those....
Stuck With You is a very cool track. A more hard edged guitar sound and a good beat.
But you know what? I like it a lot better then Big Bang Theory and the music is amongst the band's most catchy and is really quite an intelligent release. I will be playing it a lot.
But we must get over that and the starting place is the new album Rubber
While there are parts of the classic Harem Scarem
sound in place, this is as awol from their classic sound as they have come so far.
The album is immaculately produced and mixed, but is somewhat rawer than previous efforts.
The wonderful Harry Hess vocals are there of course, but there is much less harmony and overlapping vocal effects and more simple song structures.
The sound is very much a 90's commercial pop/rock style, with several different influences over the songs. But at the base of all these songs is that fuzzy 90's guitar sound and a slight 70's Cheap Trick influence and most of all, a general happy pop rock feel.

Here's the tracks:
From the very intro of It's Gotta Be we can see a new band have emerged. As the guitar chops thru a light weight verse and Harry sings with little gusto you begin to worry. But the chorus is almost entirely opposite to the verse, with a dark & heavy layered chorus that is the closest thing to Big Bang Theory or classic Scarem on this album. Once you get over the shock, this is a hugely catchy song, with a great chorus. It just ain't HS!
Who-Buddy just re-enforces the immergence of Rubber. This track is a happy fast tempo'd sort of surfing tune, complete with jangly guitars and 60's like chorus.
Coming Down is even more awol! This acoustic driven tune sounds like it could have come off any Greatest Surf hits of the 70's album.
Once the song gets going it's a little better. Basically a mid tempo acoustic rock ballad. A very country twang there though.

The track is still very very pop, but it at least should be more accepted by fans. Generally a bloody catchy pop rock song.Sunshine is a psychedelic more hard edged rock song, with only a mild tempo and lots of vocal effects. Very original and cool for that reason.
Face It heads back to the uptempo psychedelic 60's and 70's surfing feel. More jangly guitars and a very pop drum sound.Aside from the opening rack, Trip is my pick as hit from the album. This track is surprisingly sung by Pete Lesperence and is just brilliant! Yes, it is in the style of the rest of the album, but it's just such a great catchy modern/retro pop song.
Pool Party is a mid paced rock track, with a good chorus and some strong vocals from Harry Hess. The organ makes for an interesting blend of instruments.
Headache is another wonderful track. This is the guys embracing modern sounds, but making it their own. This works really well. The guys borrow from Ska this time around and put a harder edge to it. If it works for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, then why not these guys?
Everybody Else is the band's traditional acoustic ballad. I don't think this one will make it onto too many Best Of lists. It's psychedelic I guess and the vocals don't do anything for me.
Enemy (Japan Only) is an Ok track. The verse is kinda lame, but the chorus is an improvement. Not worth the import price just for the one track.

Best tracks: Trip, Headache, Stuck With You and It's Gotta Be.

Bottom line: Give this album a chance!
As a band called Rubber, this finely produced modern 90's pop/rock album is as catchy and generally more appealing than anything else on the radio.
This is a very catchy and intelligent modern pop record. The songs are as short, to the point and as catchy as any other Harem Scarem tunes, just in a new style altogether. It will take an open mind to accept this. But if you do, you will be rewarded.
But it as Harem Scarem it is a major disappointment to see the guys farewell their much loved sound.

Tell me this...if the band are so content on changing style and moving to a new arena and the fans so unanimously devoted to their classic sound - why not record under the two names?
The guys are keeping with Harem Scarem for Japan, but moving to Rubber for the rest of the world. Keeping HS for any country is desecrating their back catalogue, so why not record classic rock albums as they are and modern pop rock albums under the new name Rubber?
The guys almost did that with Fiore, why not continue? The guys own their own recording studio, so what's the big deal? Hess and Lesperance have already proved they are prolific writers and great ones at that, so material should not ever be a problem.
What do you think of that?

Review by Andrew McNeice
Originally posted at