Album Review: The Rentals – It’s Time to Come Home [EP]

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Forget the comics. Matt Sharp is the real Bizarro Superman. Unlike Clark Kent, Sharp needs his black, Coke-bottle glasses to remain on in order to write and record good music. This has proven to be the case with his band, The Rentals, who have spawned two studio albums and a couple of EPs to this point. He plays the role of the geek quite well as opposed to the dark, introspective, (sans glasses) singer-songwriter that was on display in his self-titled, solo album.

Having recorded Return of the Rentals during his time as Weezer’s bassist, Sharp departed the Rivers Cuomo-led outfit to make The Rentals a full-time gig. They released a sophomore album and, years later, an EP after a successful reunion tour. All of this leads us to the latest EP from The Rentals, It’s Time to Come Home. The EP is the second of three planned this year for their Songs About Time project. Some can say The Rentals’ recorded output is as good as, if not better, than Weezer’s in the past decade. Unfortunately, after this latest release, you can’t really say that anymore.

The problem with It’s Time to Come Home is that it’s all very one-note. The lone exception to this would be the Erasure-inspired, “No Desire #2”, or should I say the thieving of “A Little Respect”. The first thirty seconds of “No Desire #2” are seriously straight from that Erasure single from back in the day, although Sharp’s range is slightly less than that of Andy Bell. Despite this, it’s a track that kinda-sorta works thanks to the group of musicians and vocalists Sharp has surrounded himself with.

Lauren Chipman and Jamie Blake save the day with their converging voices throughout the EP. Whether it’s singing along with Sharp (“No Desire #2”), singing choruses (“Girls of the Metro”), or even going it alone (“Late Night Confessions”), the women of The Rentals sound just as good as any band featuring female vocalists out there today. The music supporting them just doesn’t stand out.

The title track would be fine if it didn’t sound so similar to the final two songs on the album. Beginning with moog, drum machine, and Sharp’s vocals, the first track builds up while maintaining an ominous, pulsing sensation throughout. “Girls of the Metro” is similar, though the conclusion of the song threatens to reach a great climax that never comes. “Late Night Confessions” is a largely acoustic number nicely delivered by Blake, but, again, has a similar finish to the track preceding it, as well as the EP opener.

Similar. Kinda. Sorta. Words that define the “meh” feeling you get from listening to the latest EP from The Rentals. It’s Time to Come Home is a disappointment coming from Matt Sharp and co, but don’t give up on them just yet. There is still an EP left to be released this fall, and you can keep faith that the band will step it up for a strong finish in what has proven to be a rather busy year.

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It’s Time to Come Home [EP]