Something for Rockets
Wake Up EP
t’s easy to hate on Something for Rockets. Their music is a sleek, kitsch-obvious merging of electronic dance music and tasteful electric guitars. Their frontman is the son of a world-famous violinist. The band has a cosy relationship with MTV and wrote the tune that Nickelodeon uses to introduce its movies. “Red in the Face” even concludes with a chorus of girls (cheerleaders?) chanting “SfR!” rather more cheerfully than seems appropriate for a band whose singer usually sounds like Jamie Cullum fronting New Order.
And yet, and yet. Setting aside SfR’s clinical production and self-satisfaction, there is something unexpectedly compelling about its infusion of indie rock melodies with electronic bells and whistles. If the Postal Service had more than a passing interest in filling dancefloors, it might sound like this.
On Wake Up the band rides its influences slightly harder, with two new songs and four remixes. The EP doesn’t quite carry its own weight, but it does indicate that SfR have more up their sleeve than their limited debut suggests. Inspired by their recent acquisition of former Phantom Planet bassist Jacques Brautbar, the new songs portray the band as something approaching an honest-to-gosh rock band, something they do even better in a live setting. “I Never Know” is brief and to-the-point, and features the slightly worrying sound of Rami Perlman pushing his slovenly baritone into falsetto. “That’s a Lie”’s chiming guitar uplift sounds like a latter-day U2 B-side, with the Edge on half power and Bono away shaking W’s hand.
The remixes are less dancefloor-obsessed than the originals, exploring electronic textures for their own sake as opposed to simply a means of mainlining a groove. “Do Me on the Dancefloor” demonstrates that effects wizard Josh Eichenbaum knows how to deconstruct a song without sacrificing momentum, but the sonic architecture he utilizes offers no real surprises, like a miniature replica in steel-and-glass of the Empire State Building. “Everybody Loves a Lot” has the spooky feel of a decent rock tune eviscerated and reincarnated as a techno-zombie, all precision dance moves and no soul.
The chugging guitars that briefly engulf the predictable blips and bloops of “The Line” frame Perlman’s melodies better than the modish electronic wizardry. If SfR didn’t adhere quite as slavishly to the archness of their dance-rock template and allowed a bit more feeling and untidiness to show, as they do in their live shows, moments like this might be less preciously rare.