Image: Cybele Malinowski
After almost a decade together, which saw the release of three albums, countless hits and a number of worldwide tours, Aussie alt-rock band The Rubens have unveiled their fourth studio album, 0202. The record takes its title from the tumultuous year that was 2020, playing on the backwards nature the world found itself in. 0202 builds upon what was started in the bands previous album LO LA RU. Bringing in contemporary RnB sounds with rich and textured layers, the album sees the five-piece defy genre, exisiting within the realms of alt-rock, RnB, pop and hip hop to create a truly unqie body of work.
Opening with the commanding Masterpiece, frontman Sam Margin is already giving one of his most compelling vocal performances whilst realising 'the one' slipped through his fingers, hinting at the melancholic theme that is threaded throughout the record. Flowing into standout track Heavy Weather, which features some bombastic horns, it's clear 0202 sees a darker sonic exploration from the band.
The records lead single Live In Life almost rings as a Maroon 5 cut, with Margin channeling Adam Levine with his melodic phrasing. There's an effortless feeling to the track, a feeling further felt on the hopeful Time Of My Life and Thank You, creating simple compositions that stir emotions within the listener. Muddy Evil Plan is one of the strongest displays of the bands newfound appreciation for fusing genres, blending gospel influences with folk sounds top a synthesised soundscape. The energetic track is screaming to be performed live and is sure to become a massive moment in the bands future live shows.
Tracks such as Holiday and Explosions bring the shimmering alt-rock, indie infused sounds to the record, bringing lighter sonics which are furthered on Apple, whilst also embracing the bands new found exploration of sound. Back to Back is a standout moment on the record, before closing the record with Party, a piano-led ballad. The melancholic track navigates the emotions left once the party is over, something that hits deeper in a time where the state of the world has changed.
Co-produced by all five band members, The Rubens have delivered a jewel within their discography, not shying away from their evolution as musicians and songwriters. Expanding their sonic palette, the band have allowed themselves to create a body of work that is as considered as it is evocative and daring. Their multi-genre influences ring true within the sonics of the record, whilst still staying true to the magic of The Rubens. With each band member expertly exhibiting their skilful musicianship, The Rubens continue to go from strength to strength, with 0202 serving as their most immaculate release to date.