CD : Rubik “Dada Bandits”

Finnish indie pop/rock band Rubik takes “quirky pop” to a whole new level on their sophomore album Dada Bandits, a record you’ll only find if you venture way off the beaten path. On first listen, the band seemingly tries a stylistic approach to “indie rock” but, eventually, it comes off as pretentious with dizzying song progressions and overly messy arrangements.

Dada Bandits struggles to balance instruments like moogs and synths with more conventional fare like guitar and bass, even throwing in a horn section, and the result is excessive and over-produced. It seems these guys can’t decide what musical direction to take. For example, opening track, “Gogi Berries,” jumps between pop harmonies and quick blasts of thrash hardcore — a potentially interesting combination — but the attempt at genre mixing doesn’t quite work and comes out sounding like a bunch of background noise.

Another track, “Richard Branson’s Crash Landing,” sounds like a weirdly tripped-out version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” while “Indiana” leaves you feeling less than satisfied in spite of its high/low dynamics and decent horn addition. Only “Wasteland” offers a change of tempo, letting a lone piano take centre stage. The track is clearly the exceptional to the rule, however, as Rubik tries really hard to make every song larger-than-life, and it becomes tiresome — quickly. Even the vocals are choppy — singer Artturi Taira’s fragile falsetto, more often than not, just breaks your eardrums.

Overall, Rubik’s psychedelic sound kind of recalls The Polyphonic Spree, the absurd, self-described “choral symphonic rock group” that made its mark in the early 2000’s and then, well, vanished. Rubik’s future looks similar. Sure, Dada Bandits has some melodic moments, but, in the end, the album is just a collection of noisy, self-indulgent, pop songs.

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