Album Review: Rooney – Eureka

“The perfect encapsulation of a killer day at the beach” – this is the way I’ve always attempted to describe Rooney to friends. Those familiar with their career will know that they have released two albums, both of which were bursting with sunny California pop tunes. Rooney’s third beached-out beauty, Eureka, is no exception to the trend. They have cranked out yet another catchy batch effulgent love songs that have become their claim to fame.

Those aforementioned Rooney-savvy individuals will also know that Rooney is fronted by  none other than Robert Schwartzman, brother of actor/Coconut Record Jason Schwartzman. What you might not know, however, is that they are nephews to Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, who is the father of Virgin Suicides/Lost In Translation director Sofia Coppola, who is life partnered with Thomas Mars, lead singer of French phenomenon Phoenix. On top of this already pretty hefty family tree, Sofia, Robert, and Jason are all first cousins with an individual named Nicholas Coppola, also known as Nicholas Cage. This year’s family reunion to attend award goes to the Coppolas, hands down.

Useless famous family member trivia aside, Rooney is a pop-rock force to be reckoned with. I’ve never really understood why Rooney isn’t more popular within the more musically educated circles. Rooney sports solid songwriting, airtight musicianship, and crowd control like I’ve never seen. The music is fun, it’s sunny, and it perfectly encapsulates California dreamin’. I’ve always been a fan, but the people I run with (people probably not dissimilar to those of you reading this, people musically informed) have always mocked my musical admiration of the band. They don’t make terrible points, however. I can certainly see where they’re coming from; there are some undesired parts to Rooney.

With this most recent record, Cali-kids Rooney have, for better or worse, burrowed deeper into their niche in the music scene. Unfortunately that niche is very accessible to low-caliber listeners, which creates a bit of a negative image for the band. It’s similar to the way Muse created a more accessible version of Radiohead; it’s weird, but not too weird. Rooney’s easy on the ears and easy to understand, so the kids flock to it. Of course, it’s not all the kids’ fault. Rooney welcomes their fan base, all shapes and sizes, with open arms. This may sound like it would be a good quality to have in a band, but in reality, it’s the only thing holding them back from being really cool. Well, that, and agreeing to open for The Jonas Brothers for a leg of their 2008 U.S. tour. That was a bad touring decision, and broadened Rooney’s already too broad fan base to the endless hoards of pre-teen Disney Channel scene. Oh well. We all have some mistakes we wish we could travel back in time to correct.

Bad marketing aside, however, musically speaking, Rooney is great. This particular album, while certainly not as good as its two predecessors, is a solid look at their talents. They place (and have always placed) an enormous amount of emphasis on Robert Schwartzman’s ability as a frontman. He’s got the look, the swagger, and most important of all, he’s got the pipes. This is an extremely impressive vocal album, if nothing else. Schwartzman struts his stuff track after track, and lays down some serious performances on the tracks “Holdin’ On”, “Go On”, “Into The Blue”, and album single “I Can’t Get Enough”. Some people were just born to sing, and Schwartzman’s just one of them.

Otherwise, musically the band is where they’re always at: rousing guitar work, and the basic drums, keyboards, and bass to back it up. You can always count on the rest of the band for a tight sound that sets solid footing for the vocals and guitar work. Tracks you have to listen to for pure musicianship: “Don’t Look At Me”, “I Can’t Get Enough”, “Into The Blue”, and “All or Nothing”. This is an album that is laden with bright tracks that are just in time to help you enjoy your Summer, and that’s something Rooney’s always been good for.

This album marks the third installment in Rooney’s discography, and it’s a good one to add to the list; something they should be proud of. Of the 12 tracks on the album, eight are gonna stick around, and that’s a win in my book. It may have been perhaps been too lateral a move for the band, but that’s okay since what they were doing before wasn’t all that bad. They don’t push the limits or test the waters of the genre, they stick to their guns. What I mean to say is, Rooney has always sounded a particular way, and they probably always will, but that’s okay when the sound is so incandescently attractive.


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