Rufio - Anybody Out There
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Record Label: The Militia Group
When I read that Rufio were releasing a new full-length record, "A Simple Line" doubled its play total in my iTunes in one night. My favorite song off of the band's 2005 opus The Comfort of Home, "A Simple Line" was part of the soundtracks to my summers that featured Jack's Mannequin, The Format, Yellowcard, and lots of songs off of Sticks and Stones. And I'll be honest - The Comfort of Home is the only Rufio album I'm comfortably familiar with. So when Anybody Out There was slated for an August release date, I was just excited for a pop punk release that would be a throwback to the carefree vibes of summers past. It's not like the genre has starved me lately, but why wouldn't I want a little extra icing on my cake?
As has been the case with 2010, and as I should grow to expect as this year goes on, Rufio's latest output and second release for The Militia Group pulled the rug out from under me right from the start. Anybody Out There is an appropriate name for this record: being their first full-length effort in five years, Rufio has good reason to wonder if people will still remember them and care about this release. But with twelve lightweight songs of catchy pop punk, Rufio are guaranteed to reclaim all of their old listeners and gain some new ones.
Opener "Little World" sets the tone right from the very beginning by demonstrating the three most essential notable aspects of this record. For me, the first is the technical guitar work on this album. Clark Domae and Scott Sellers tear things up on this record and aren't afraid to put in a few face-melting licks where other bands might fall flat and use less stellar fills. The next obvious favorable aspect of this record is the fine production job that Sellers and the rest of Rufio combined with Jon Berry to do. The production really lends itself to the sound because it accentuates the entertaining guitar work while not drowning out the vocals, which brings us to the third piece of the puzzle. Sellers' pipes on Anybody Out There are stronger than ever, tying everything together with clear, clean, and catchy vocals. "Little World" exemplifies each of these parts of Rufio's sound, all of which contribute to the success of Anybody Out There.
There are, however, some regions where Rufio are weaker than some of their peers. The lyrics aren't very strong - but honestly, how many times do we have to go through the argument that you're not listening to pop punk to become inspired to write a sonnet? There isn't a lot of variability on this record, but the lack of curveballs throughout the record doesn't prove to be a negative. Rufio play the fast-paced, hook-laden, hit-and-run verse-chorus-bridge game extremely well, and recognize that in a structure is where they shine. What this does result in is not much commentary for a record that is slowly finding its niche among my highly praised pop punk releases of the year. There are, however, a few standouts.
Right in the middle of Anybody Out There, Rufio lay down a double shot of "Gold & Silver" followed by the title track. "Gold & Silver" features an excellent effort by Sellers in the chorus, while "Anybody Out There" is the strongest and catchiest track on the album. Fooling you with an acoustic introduction, Rufio then launch into a high-tempo guitar onslaught before a sing-along chorus. The synth lines buried on "The Loneliest" provide another highlight on this record, following the pattern that my favorite songs on the record are those that have Rufio running around in organized chaos. The fastest-paced tracks are the most enjoyable for me and have already been subject to a few late-night car rides. Something tells me that "Under 18", "Deep End", and "Run" (especially "Run") are going to have no problem making their way onto a few mix tapes.
The obligatory reflective, mid-tempo closer is present here as well with "Moonshine". Rufio manage to keep things relatively normal and the cheesiness in the lyrics is somewhat charming, although this is probably the weakest track on the record. If anything, that just stresses the lack of any excessive filler on Anybody Out There. Rufio have made a triumphant return with Anybody Out There, and this four-star release should make new and old fans happy to have them back on board.