Written by: Alex Green
Let’s talk about time.
Because, let’s face it, when it comes to the new Rave-Ups album, time is more than just the elephant in the room.
It’s the elephant and it’s the room.
It’s been 32 years since the Rave-Ups’ last album—1990’s Chance—and when you stop to think about it, that’s a long, long time.
The beloved rock and roll band have out dueled Guns N’ Roses, My Bloody Valentine and the Beach Boys in terms of maddening duration between albums and that’s no small feat.
Look, Smile was fine, MBV was cool and Chinese Democracy was weird, but the Rave-Ups’ new long player Tomorrow, is utterly bad-ass.
Reconvening after all this time is a calculated risk because voices get worn and lyrics go soft and bass lines wander, guitars fall flat and drums beat meekly away.
But not this time.
God knows what the experience of Chance and life on a major label like Epic took out of the Rave-Ups, but that’s a story for another day. Because whatever was taken out was put back in on Tomorrow and with more muscle and groove and rock and roll smarts than seems humanly possible. The original L.A. lineup (singer/songwriter Jimmer Podrasky, guitarist Terry Wilson, bassist Tommy Blatnik, and drummer Timothy Jimenez) are back in action and have somehow come up with an album that’s invigorating, rollicking and full of life.
Though he’s called Southern California home for decades, Podrasky remains the poet laureate of Pennsylvania and his lyrics still have that same literary quality that made him so special in the first place. Podrasky has always straddled the line between being a wisecracker and being wise and on his band’s new album he’s found the perfect blend, tearing through the eleven track song-cycle with the touch of a philosopher, the finesse of a poet and the prankster spirit of an eternal punk.
The playful stomp of “Brigitte Bardot” is—pardon the pun—a frisky and self-effacing rave-up about unrequited love that finds Podrasky deciding: “I guess I’ll write an angry song about her/That’s number sixteen just this week.”
Too many winners here to pick favorites, but for starters, there’s the rolling opener “So, You Wanna Know The Truth” which has all the velocity of a train tearing down the tracks; the jangling perfection of “Roll” is utterly irresistible and the pure pop pounce of “Cry” makes it an instant winner.
Elsewhere, there’s the Byrdsian “Coming After Me,” the punchy “Violets On A Hill” and the elegiac “The Dream Of California.”
And Podrasky’s ode to his late father “How Old Am I?” is a straight-up stunner that’s emotional, conversational and one of the most massively satisfying tributes you’ll ever hear.
Podrasky’s voice is remarkably untouched by time and his delivery has the same stinging poignancy its always had. Nobody can make you laugh and cry faster than Podrasky and that’s always been his lethal secret weapon. A scholar and a punk and a scholar again, his lyrics are bittersweet (“Sometimes when you’re with me/It feels just like being alone”) and unabashedly honest (“Today I feel just like the devil/Man, he looks a lot to you like me”) and on Tomorrow he reminds everyone that he’s one of the best songwriters on the planet.
Always has been, always will be.
I don’t like any of our chances statistically if the Rave-Ups wait another thirty-two years to make a record. But I suspect the urgency and the immediacy and the brilliance of Tomorrow means that kind of a wait won’t happen again because this isn’t a valedictory victory lap celebrating the end of unfinished business.
This is the beginning of something special.