Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
On the day of this writing, Devo has a new greatest hits album in stores and that's fine and all, but what we need - people - is something like that as a reminder that The Cars were and are great. For a spell there, a whole slew of young bands were looking to Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr as the grandfathers with all of the sage advice and all of best jumping off points. We're talking about those days when Rivers Cuomo couldn't not talk about Ocasek in interviews, not only because the bony man was engineering his band's best work, but also because he owed so much of that classic Weezer sound to him and not the hair metal that he always tried to cite. There were The Rentals and an entire youth culture in California that lived on "Shake It Up," "Candy-O" and "Heartbeat City" as if those records were frozen pizzas, providing them all their needed daily allowances of nutrients, and melodic, caramel-y, gooey, sticky hooks. A band like Finland's Rubik can do its part in helping us reconnect with the great work of The Cars and see it transposed in a different way on it's last full-length album, the great "Dada Bandits." The band journeys into an electro-pop landscape that employs more than just the layers and layers of synthesizers and featured inspiration from all the pretty girls who they'd like to pick up if they were cool enough. The music is rooted in various strengths - a propulsive percussive streak, striking, fuzzed out guitar and bass lines, shimmery piano and synth pieces and Artturi Taira's sweet vocals, which could be located somewhere between Thomas Mars and Robert Smith in an encyclopedia of contemporary pop singer tendencies. It travels swiftly to all of the epicenters of the body that approve agitation and prefer to be stimulated and worked up - all at once. The music gets into those harbors and starts to cook, tempting us to start feeling it getting into our legs and all that's below our belts. "Bear On A Train," begins as a broken nerve, as a train slowly pulling out of the station, with Taira singing, "And we'll eat our heritage," before the keyboards and the accessories say hello and then - strangely - we hear a banjo make an appearance a little later on. It all gets roughed up a bit, while still maintaining a brilliant sheen. It's a dynamic and odd collection of instruments coming together to make something of sublime intricacy, a boulder gathering steam and beauty as it rolls down a hillside. Rubik uses its many experimentations to continue introducing more and more sensations into its songs, showing us exactly where inspirations can be helped to reach.