1. Out of Control
2. Let Fate Decide
3. A Simple Line
5. Never Learn
6. Bitter Season
7. Mental Games
10. Questions and Answers
11. Life Songs
13. Walk Don’t Run
14. A View To Save
16. My Escape
Years ago when Rufio popped up on my radar, I was endlessly spinning records like New Found Glory’s self titled and Midtown’s Save the World, Lose the Girl. They proved a welcomed addition to my collection as some of the fastest, most technical, and melodic pop-punk I had ever heard. Despite the ultra quick pace and rapid fire guitar work, I was impressed that they could still translate emotion. No matter how immature or youthful, the music still communicated feeling. Almost 5 years later, most of the bands I used to cherish have now changed, some more drastically than others, and justifiably so. Generally speaking, today’s scene is on the lookout for a darker, more aggressive, and far more profound breed of sounds. Essentially any of the albums that were once my favorites, released currently, would probably be slandered, even by myself, and swallowed into nothingness. However, Rufio have bore the waves of time like only a handful of others have been able to. With deeply planted roots and a firm musical structure, the tides of change have washed over them, but never knocked them down. Their newest album, The Comfort of Home, is a true testament to this survival, serving as the most complete, inspired, and musically interesting Rufio album to date.
Gone are the sappy ballads and the novice production, instead is a focused record, revealing a band that has perfected their craft to the fullest. The record begins with nothing other than a signature Rufio-style fast picked riff that leads into the opening track, “Out of Control,” perhaps the catchiest of the new songs. Let me start off this review by saying the guitar work on this record is just phenomenal. I am constantly in sheer amazement at how these guys always manage time and time again to combine a slew of disciplined notes and mini-solos into a coherent pattern that fits the song and sets the pace and tone. These guys prove throughout the record that they are truly talented with their instruments as they shred out rif***e left and right, in every corner of every song. “Out of Control,” is an efficient opener, the chorus will get stuck in your head, and the bridge is well produced and affecting.
One of the most important aspects of this album is the production. Perhaps, I Suppose was never finally mastered and MCMLXXV just didn’t sound that great. So this is the first Rufio album to enjoy those benefits, and it pays off. The clarity obviously adds a lot to the listening experience and some of the underlying soundwork and effects are really essential to this album, enhancing the songs and allowing them to thrive.
“A Simple Line,” is the first standout track, and contains a very large message, which while somewhat pretentious, cannot be argued. The first verse begs, “Is anybody listening?/Our ears deceive/How easily that we believe the hype machine/The label means everything/It’s all for show/I wanna hear the awful screams/Everything contrived and laughable.” There is no denying this is a bold gesture, to attack the scene in which they have flourished is not something easily overlooked. Whether this infuriates you or impassions you, one has to admire Rufio’s courage in speaking their minds, and singing about a more advanced and controversial subject matter. After the cynical verse, the beautifully melodic chorus takes a more optimistic approach in asking fans to “Listen with your ears not your eyes.” A reiterative message that we’ve all heard before, but it never hurts to be reminded of something this important. I refer to this as a standout track because of the thoughtful concept, the prominent and uplifting chorus, the very reflective and moving bridge, and the short but sweet solo. On that note, I really appreciate it when bands utilize solos, definitely not on a consistent basis, but every now and then, especially on a passionate track, a precise solo can be a spectacular addition.
After “A Simple Line” comes the first of four interlude tracks on the record. From prior experience, interludes are almost never a good idea, especially if it isn’t a concept record. However, Rufio almost got it right here. The first interlude is a really epic sounding piece that just adds a little enchantment to the record that is uncharacteristic of the band. No fears, you will not want to skip it. In fact, I find myself listening to it separately from the album.
“Never learn” begins with hyper speed guitar work that reminds me of the background music to a level in the old Mega Man Nintendo games, and then boasts another gripping chorus and another great bridge, both guaranteed to get you bobbing your head. The Comfort of Home is really an album laden with excellent choruses that often act as a redeeming quality, depending on the track. To say that this band has a sense of melody would be an understatement. “Drowning,” is one of the most interesting songs I’ve ever heard out of Rufio. Giving off an almost dancy aura, it is really poppy, and the bridge is one of the best on the album; another well-done solo. It is nice to hear a little acoustic guitar incorporated into “Walk Don’t Run,” which also has some ridiculously innovative guitar work in the bridge and “A View to Save,” reflects a slightly different texture than the rest of the album. The showstopping number finally arrives in the last two tracks, which work together to end the album. The first is considered the fourth interlude, and the only full acoustic song, and a beautiful one at that. Then immediately following comes the thunderous roar of the final track, “My Escape,” which is more like the second, electric half of the previous song, seeing how it maintains the same vocal tune and lyrical content. This closing duo of songs is possibly the best part of the record, and again contains somewhat mixed feelings on the music scene, expressing contemplative sentiments like, “Somehow the music lost the meaning/I love these strings I hate these chords/Can I escape the stage before me/I love these crowds but I need more.” “My Escape,” is truly jam packed with energy, a total rush of a song, covered with little solos and rocking guitars. I can only describe it as a completely perfect way to end the album. “We built these walls to last forever/And now I’m planning my escape.”
The biggest problem with this record is that while the musicianship is technically impressive, every song follows the same basic structure. Save for the interludes, you can go through each song on this record mindlessly pinpoint intro,verse,chorus,verse,chorus,bri dge,chorus. It really is that simple, with almost no variation whatsoever. Also, every song is a Rufio song, musically they don’t actually explore any new ground, just far better ground. This feature acts as a double edged sword, for it is the one aspect that has kept that Rufio heart in their music all these years, but has also kept their albums from surpassing expectations and soaring into that next level of musical bliss. The Comfort of Home is really the definitive Rufio record. If they choose to continue with the same style and formula, it is going to a challenge to top this effort. My advice for them would be to take all the brilliant qualities they have now obviously mastered and forge them into creating an atypical Rufio record, and that is when they will leave their permanent mark on music. Until then, The Comfort of Home is a triumph and a pop-punk milestone from a band that has been little-weathered by the sands of time. Rufio have managed the incredible feat of creating a record that stands against that of any current headliner, while still maintaining, in all it’s glory, the sound and direction that has guided them from the start.