Rooney – Calling the World
Release Date: July 17, 2007
Record Label: Geffen Records
Rooney's second release for Geffen Records, Calling the World, will undoubtedly remain one of the most entertaining major label releases when the end of 2007 rolls around. There, I said it; it's a bold prediction, but very well deserved. Led by frontman Robert Schwartzman (brother of Phantom Planet's Jason Schwartman), the band harnesses a sound that struts between dance, surf, and good-natured radio-ready alternative rock. With Calling the World, Rooney have set the bar significantly higher with a fantastic summer album that you really ought to check out for yourself.
At heart, I'm a sucker for sweeping hooks and sing-alongs. I believe there's an art to writing a single. Some bands have "it" and others just don't. Rooney have put together 12 down-to-earth yet undeniably catchy cuts that send the hips shaking and the hearts breaking. The absurdly infectious "When Did Your Heart Go Missing?" is the lead single from the album and relies heavily on a hard-driving dance-ready chorus. Robert Schwartzman's vocals fit perfectly with this energetic and impassioned sound, which ultimately sells the validity of the music to even the most stubborn of music fans. The guitar riffs sizzle, especially in the hot-blooded "Don't Come Around Again," which seems to channel classic rock 'n roll with some contemporary leanings.
While the first half of Calling the World is jam-packed with bona-fide singles of all sorts (including the title track and the wistful "I Should Have Been After You"), tracks seven through twelve require a bit more room to grow. "All In Your Head" is a tongue-in-cheek verbal assault that is sure to bring a smile to your face as Schwartzman cuts down a lover who never was. Louie Stephens' keyboards make a strong resurgence on "Believe In Me," which takes a hopeful tone in complete contrast to its predecessor. "Help Me Find My Way" offers a robust string arrangement to complement the most poignant song on the album, although it may fall victim to being tagged as a "stereotypical ballad" because Calling the World is otherwise relatively up-tempo. Rooney have made great strides since their debut self-titled album. They've refined their songwriting, polished their musicianship until it shines, and then they seem to have focused on releasing the most earnest, fun album that they possibly can. Guess what? It's working.
The only significant downside to Calling the World lies in the lyrics and repetitiveness of some of the songs. This is a very hooky album, and as such, some of the songs do skimp on verses. If you come in not expecting the most verbose album you've ever listened to, and just enjoy this CD for what it is—a addictive alternative rock album that makes no pretenses and doesn't try to reinvent the musical wheel. Instead, Rooney have taken some of the best of the last forty years of music as influences and melded it together into their own artistic yield that is enticing and accessible but doesn't sound overwrought. Calling the World is my guilty pleasure of 2007 without the morning-after walk of shame.