Having been selected by Amy to review Department Store Girl, the latest album release by The Rosenbergs, I wasn’t certain of a. who they were or b. why she had asked me to do it (other than, perhaps, my long-winded blog had led her to believe that I have a lot of time on my hands for the this sort of thing).
I quickly figured it out. Apparently, The Rosenbergs is supposed to be the kind of band that I love, meaning power-pop similar to Fountains of Wayne (FoW). Their press packet is riddled with not only references to FoW but to other bands that FoW have played with (The Lemonheads), and other bands members of FoW were in (The Posies). If you threw in a couple of references to Ivy, Gay Potatoes and Belltower then you’d have all the FoW members covered twice.
Obviously, I was a bit cynical of the comparisons but willing to give it a go. Who doesn’t love cute pop-rock bands that sing in falsetto the first song in?
The Rosenberg’s first Force MP release is a musically diverse collection of various influences and tones. Much like a “Department Store,” there are lots of different styles for you to try on, reject, or run screaming to the counter with saying, “I have got to have this now. It is just SO ME.”
Lead singer David Fagin’s voice takes so many twists and turns over the course of the album (twelve official tracks and one hidden) that you get the feeling that he’s got a lot more music bouncing around in his head than the studio could hold. The first track is “Holding Pattern” and instantly you’re pushed forward by a wave of strong chords and a clear falsetto followed up with the one-two punch of a power harmony. The song continues this ebb and flow that pulls and pushes you directly into the title track, “Department Store Girl,” which gives you a clear example of the kind of boys The Rosenbergs want you to think that they are – observant and wistful with a dash of humorous glee.
Jump into track three “Crockett & Tubbs” and the CD takes a turn for the weird. Sung through a filter, it smacks of 90s rock, heavy on the synthesizer. Peppered with references to muggings, morgues, Bentleys, riots, and of course the yen to emulate those prolific crime fighters Crockett and Tubbs of Miami Vice fame, it leaves a pop girl to wonder, “Where have all the pop boys gone?”
Thankfully this cloud passes quickly enough with the infectious “Birds of a Feather,” a simple arrangement of guitar, piano and simple vocal harmonies reminiscent of “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. With lyrics like Cause we go together just like jam and bread or maybe birds of a feather, it’s a pure sugary-sweet uncut pop-rock love song that’s got everything a girl needs to be swept off her feet. I’ll take that broom in a size eight, thank you very much.
The trip continues as you’re lead in and out of songs which strike a melancholy nerve while simultaneously making you want to dance around the room – a perfect example being “Weekend (meet me, hurry up).” The combination of Fagin’s lead vocal and the backing harmonies makes this song sound like a companion piece to Ivy’s “I’ve Got a Feeling.”
The final track, “Unperfect Love,” makes for a strong ending with it’s swift-kicking bass drum, crunching guitar chords, clean vocals and lyrics which allow the pop boy to declare his love for the bad which is sometimes the best love you can get. But, if you wait a little longer through the silence (8:34 minutes to be exact), one last song pops up into the air: Kind of like the unfound love note at the bottom of your locker, and thus making it a top contender for my favorite song on the album.
To the point, Department Store Girl has several strong tracks interwoven with a few that you’re guaranteed to skip over at first listen. If you’re as big on bouncy pop music as I am, eventually the sharp edges will soften and the album will grow on you. This album may not become your “favorite party frock of 2004” but it will definitely fill in a few gaps in your wardrobe.
Learn more at The Rosenbergs’ Official site