Although in the UK and the US, Finnish alternative (read: emo) rock band The Rasmus are mostly known for a couple of tracks, they’ve been working since 1996 and are, in fact, a big hit in Europe and back home.
The band’s latest album, 2012’s self-titled effort The Rasmus, is their eighth and marks their first album produced by Universal. Which, I guess, is why they decided to name this one after themselves, to mark the occasion in some way.
The Rasmus is the kind of band you know right away whether you like them or not. They’re hardly for everyone: far too soft for true rock fans, they instead constantly walk a fine line between goth pop and emo rock, a type of music that’s particularly popular in Finland but tends to do relatively well pretty much everywhere. With this recent album, they introduced an electronic element into their now familiar style.
Did it work?
Well, if the album’s first song is anything to go by, not really.
“Stranger” was the second single to be released from The Rasmus and that’s really surprising since it’s, by far, one of the weakest songs on the album. It’s soppy, corny and the new electro sound just makes the whole thing sound like generic fast-food pop fare. It’s a really light track to kick things off with and doesn’t promise much.
The second song (and first single), “I’m A Mess”, is also very poppy but, at the very least, its chorus is undeniably catchy. It’s one of those ear-worms you wish wasn’t stuck in your head, though. And, with lyrics like “I forgot your birthday/I’m dressed in rags.”, this is hardly setting up to be a hardcore album at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Actually, the album is a bit of a pain to get through until the fifth song, “Someone’s Gonna Light You Up”, which is easily the best track on the entire album. It opens promisingly with an explosive burst of energy then delivers a rockier, heavier sound which is refreshingly reminiscent of the band’s earlier, better stuff. This heavier, cleaner sound feels like the right direction for the band to take but, alas, it’s one of the only songs on the album to go for that.
A fun, cool tune.
Instead of more of that, though, we’re made to listen through the likes of “It’s Your Night”, another poppy tune with an annoyingly catchy chorus. The beat in this one really gives off a weird boy band vibe, The Rasmus sounding less like The Rasmus here and more like The Backstreet Boys, with added whiny emo lyrics: “It’s a cruel, cruel world…”.
Take all the echoes out of that track, by the way, and it’s about a minute long.
The fourth song, “Save Me Once Again”, is, thankfully, a little better. It’s a slower love song with a welcome 80’s feel to it and an overall Muse-esque vibe. It’s cheesy, don’t get me wrong, but its melody is nice and its lyrics are bittersweet enough to work. Song number 6 is slow burn “End Of The Story”, another boy-band-like track. It’s slightly better than “It’s Your Night”, however, in that its melody and chorus aren’t actually too bad but it crumbles when you realise how repetitive it is. This one just won’t grab you.
“You Don’t See Me” is not bad, mostly thanks to its rockier start, its occasional pretty good parts and cool breaks. It’s not too memorable, unfortunately, but it’s entertaining and harmless enough. It’s followed by “Somewhere”, a light pop song which opens acoustically then devolves into an Avril Lavigne-type tune the minute the drums kick in. It’s a soapy, dull effort which, criminally, is over five minutes long. Good luck with that one…
Alright, two songs to go.
The Rasmus could still surprise us and save this album from a below-par rating.
Song number 9, the stupidly titled “Friends Don’t Do Like That”, has an OK melody but no real hook or chorus. It’s entertaining enough but pretty forgettable. Finally, the last song, which is simply called “Sky”, opens soft, gives us a decent build-up, then develops into something of a power ballad. Minus most of the power needed. Sadly, decent enough chorus-aside, this is another average track which should have tapped more into its darker side and delivered much more in order to truly stand out. As it stands, it’s not bad, but it’s nowhere near good enough to end this album on the high note it sorely needed.
That The Rasmus chose to name this particular album after themselves is a real shame seeing as it’s definitely one of their biggest misfires. Sure, there’s a couple of fair enough tracks on here, one of which is genuinely quite good, but it’s mostly a missed opportunity: the new electronic sound bogging down the whole album into commercial pop territory, never allowing the band to rock out or sound like themselves. I recommend going back to their three preceding albums and skipping this one altogether, frankly.
The Rasmus narrowly escape the dreaded 1 star rating this time thanks to a couple of worthy-enough tracks but they still end up with only 2 Happy goths.