With a solid fusion of alternative rock riffs and power pop harmonies, Readymade Breakup’s sound will undoubtedly bring to mind several bands you’ve heard before. Their first two albums (2007’s ‘Isn’t That What It’s For?’ and 2008’s ‘Alive On The Vine’) have their moments, but the third album by this New Jersey band – now down to a four piece following the departure of keyboardist Matt Jaworski – demonstrates a stronger gift for great songcraft and musicianship.
The album opens with a simple drum pattern and fairly angry rhythm guitar work. This kind of relative simplicity could have appeared lumpy, but bassist Gay Elvis plays a fairly busy bassline to flesh things out. When then the chorus kicks in. It’s not as hooky as you’d expect, but even so, Paul Rosevar’s lead vocal is very strong. By the time the harder alternative edges hit the chorus for the second time (via a bridge full of Beatle-esque harmonies), it’s obvious they may be on to something. A similar mid-pace drives ‘Just’, where the band embrace lots of great 90s sounds, but it’s the more aggressive styles of The Posies (circa ‘Amazing Disgrace’) and Ty Tabor’s short-lived Jughead project from 2002 which are among the most obvious, thanks to the collision of chunky riffs with a wall of power pop harmony vocals.
‘Waiting For You’ is the first of a few real standouts, dominated by a busy drum pattern intercut with huge guitar chords. It’s at this point Readymade Breakup really start to hit their stride; their brand of alt-rock showing hints of the lighter Foo Fighters material. ‘Unzip My Face (I Miss You)’ follows swiftly and its faster pace is very welcome. While a simple chorus brings with it a great hook, musically, it’s Gay Elvis’s rumbling bass and Spicy O’Neil’s crashy drumming style which provide the best moments. While some solid backing harmonies and an occasional piano hint at the noisy end of power pop, it’s another slice of 90s retro, alternative rock = the kind which Readymade Breakup seem to deliver so well.
After an acoustic opening, ‘Good Things’ is another upbeat number – and one which features all of Readymade Breakup’s best elements in just over three minutes. A solid electric riff compliments the acoustic rhythm, and although the full-on riffs all but dominate afterwards, the acoustic work can still be heard rounding out the sound of the quieter moments. As before, Gay Elvis’s bass playing is superbly busy throughout and O’Neil’s drumming features a couple of quirky moments. With a fantastic mix of riffs and harmonies (and a rather raucous guitar solo from Jim Fitzgerald), this is the sound of Readymade Breakup at their best. The more discerning listeners among you may hear something reminiscent of oft overlooked 90s alternative band Mother May I during the noisier sections. The album is worth checking out for this track alone.
The closing number finds Readymade Breakup leaving one of their best for last. ‘Erased’ is a mid-paced workout, full of lush harmony vocals, punctuated by occasional ringing guitar. There’s not so much of a chorus here as on some of the previous numbers, but those harmonies and a slightly more adventurous arrangement make up for that – particularly on a funky bridge section featuring Rosevar laying down some funky electric piano. The band eventually delivers some louder, more typical rock riffs before the fadeout.
After a slow start, ‘Readymade Breakup’ proves to be a very strong release indeed, tougher in places than some of Readymade Breakup’s previous outings. The fusion of alternative rock and power pop might not always be of interest to the more pop-oriented listeners among you…but for those who like alternative rock with a focus on strong song-writing and big harmonies, this is an album which could be a cult classic.