Rocket Science – Eternal Holiday

The mediocrity of the Vines, Jet, and the Datsuns has soured me to Australian rock revivalist bands with self-abusive leaders. I suppose that is an obscure sub-genre, but somehow Rocket Science falls into it. Eternal Holiday was recorded just after the band’s lead singer, Roman Tucker, finished rehab after nearly overdosing. That event gives the album title perhaps unintentional poignancy. Rocket Science does wallow in the great rock and roll tradition of excess. They have their shtick, and they’re riding it for all it’s worth (sexual innuendo intended).

The song titles are pretty self-explanatory, “Sex Call,” “Too Tough to Care,” and “Dressed to Kill” all make the band’s image of trashy rock none too subtle. And I love me some sleaze. Sadly, the glittery sheen of the album’s production makes it a bit hit-and-miss. The spirits of Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper do hang around the music a bit, but don’t actually inhabit it. I don’t think the rock gods would allow Iggy to make something this produced or Alice something this tame, without first demanding a pound of flesh.

The music, tightly played with dashes of organ, has its fare share of pop hooks and harmonies – something lacking from many of Rocket Science’s contemporaries. They know that the value of a croon is often equal to or greater than a sneer in rock and roll. This particular rock and roll algebra aside (that would make a good band name, Rock and Roll Algebra… but I digress), the band is just a bit too by the numbers – I swear that pun wasn’t intentional. The blandness could be the result of the album’s production, which makes the band sound unnecessarily tame. According to fans, including such notables as Supergrass, Rocket Science have a ferocious live show- if only that came through in the album, because one thing missing from the rock revival is the raw, unbridled energy that first imbued rock and roll with such a tenacious life force.

Eternal Holiday is, somewhat, Rocket Science’s push into the American market. Unfortunately it comes at a time when music, not just in the US, is glutted with garage throwbacks. A year or two earlier, they may have made more of a dent in the cynical indie shell; especially considering they sound nothing like the Strokes (which would’ve been the kiss of death). They have an understanding of the pulse that beat in bands like Iggy Pop, the Stones, MC5, and even the Modern Lovers. But, fickle as ever, the indie music scene now demands that its bands sound fresh, rather than retro. You can’t please everybody…

(Modular Recordings)