Vinyl Review: Rooftop Vigilantes — Let It Be

News / Reviews / Vinyl Review / July 25, 2016

Don’t call it a comeback.

High Dive Records

At this point, naming your record Let It Be means you’re referencing both The Beatles and The Replacements, running the risk of roaring past simple cheek and bordering on outright hubris. That said, when your album cover features someone in a Yoda mask drinking a Bud Light, you’re probably more on the cheeky side.

For those who came to the Lawrence quartet known as Rooftop Vigilantes early in the game — with their debut release Carrot Atlas, or even their sophomore LP, Real Pony Glue — the pop hooks of the band have been undeniable. Even hidden behind a wall of organ-tinged, moddish rock ‘n’ roll, delivered in bursts that usually fell shy of two minutes, the band still managed to create songs that might’ve been too busily speedy to hum, but still left you randomly singing snippets to yourself apropos of nothing.

The band’s been on semi-permanent hiatus, playing very random shows, which some members might not make, and haven’t put out a full-length in five years, nor anything other than a digital EP in four. So what happens when, seemingly out of nowhere, you have this mythical third record, which was supposedly never going to see the light of day? Well, first of all — when it shows up in your mailbox, you put the needle on that sucker and you crank it loud, sitting in front of the speakers and hoping it was worth the wait.

Other than, “of course it was worth the wait,” it’s hard to figure out what to write about, especially when there’s a “something has survived” essay on the back cover. Jerry Pavlov’s perfectly-worded illustration of Let It Be as “the bleary morning after” for Real Pony Glue’s “jet age CGI sheen” — how the hell can that be topped? It can’t. The only thing I can do is tell you two things. The first is that Let It Be is a calmer affair than records past, with the screaming outbursts used as emphasis, rather than the default mode of expression. The second is that “Trains Get Critical” is one of the most perfect band-specific thesis statements I’ve heard in a very long time.

Perhaps the best distillation of Rooftop Vigilantes’ sound, the keys could be a little higher in the mix, but that’s literally all the more I could ask for from these 93 seconds. It’s the sort of song you hear once, and before the next track is more than a couple of notes deep, you’ve lifted the needle and put it back at the beginning of “Trains” again. You’ll probably do it a few times. The fact that the band manages to work in an intro and an outro (bass-oriented, too: bonus), as well as a short guitar solo: how can a song do more in a minute and a half?

Get this record, become a fan, work backwards through their catalog, and turn yourself into a PBR-swilling, cigarette-smoking, going-into-work-hungover 20-something again. It might not last forever, but this 30 minutes is still pretty great.

Sound Quality

The record is on heavy-duty black vinyl, and it sounds great, considering it was recorded in a basement with Garageband and a can-do attitude.

Packaging

Solid jacket, said heavy-duty vinyl, as well as a gloriously colorful lyric sheet, which nods to The Beatles more than a little.

Extras

Let It Be comes with a download code and title sticker on the poly sleeve, which lets the cover image kind of live on its own.

Don't call it a comeback. High Dive Records At this point, naming your record Let It Be means you’re referencing both The Beatles and The Replacements, running the risk of roaring past simple cheek and bordering on outright hubris. That said, when your album cover features someone in a Yoda mask drinking a Bud Light, you’re probably more on the cheeky side. For those who came to the Lawrence quartet known as Rooftop Vigilantes early in the game — with their debut release Carrot Atlas, or even their sophomore LP, Real Pony Glue — the pop hooks of the band have been undeniable. Even hidden behind a wall of organ-tinged, moddish rock ‘n’ roll, delivered in bursts that usually fell shy of two minutes, the band still managed to create songs that might’ve been too busily speedy to hum, but still left you randomly singing snippets to yourself apropos of nothing. The band's been on semi-permanent hiatus, playing very random shows, which some members might not make, and haven't put out a full-length in five years, nor anything other than a digital EP in four. So what happens when, seemingly out of nowhere, you have this mythical third record, which was supposedly never going to see the light of day? Well, first of all — when it shows up in your mailbox, you put the needle on that sucker and you crank it loud, sitting in front of the speakers and hoping it was worth the wait. Other than, "of course it was worth the wait," it’s hard to figure out what to write about, especially when there’s a “something has survived” essay on the back cover. Jerry Pavlov’s perfectly-worded illustration of Let It Be as “the bleary morning after” for Real Pony Glue’s “jet age CGI sheen” — how the hell can that be topped? It can’t. The only thing I can do is tell you two things. The first is that Let It Be is a calmer affair than records past, with the screaming outbursts used as emphasis, rather than the default mode of expression. The second is that “Trains Get Critical” is one of the most perfect band-specific thesis statements I’ve heard in a very long time. Perhaps the best distillation of Rooftop Vigilantes’ sound, the keys could be a little higher in the mix, but that’s literally all the more I could ask for from these 93 seconds. It’s the sort of song you hear once, and before the next track is more than a couple of notes deep, you’ve lifted the needle and put it back at the beginning of "Trains" again. You’ll probably do it a few times. The fact that the band manages to work in an intro and an outro (bass-oriented, too: bonus), as well as a short guitar solo: how can a song do more in a minute and a half? Get this record, become a fan, work backwards through their catalog, and turn yourself into a PBR-swilling, cigarette-smoking, going-into-work-hungover 20-something again. It might not…

Grade

Music - 83%
Sound Quality - 75%
Packaging - 82%
Extras - 73%

78%

An enthusiastically poppy return that's no less raucous for being restrained.

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78

“Let It Be” is available from High Dive Records.


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Nick Spacek
Nick Spacek was once a punk, but realized you can’t be hardcore and use the word “adorable” as often as he does. Nick is a self-described “rock star journalist,” which is strange, considering he’s married with four cats and usually goes to bed by 9. This is just further proof that you can’t trust anyone online.






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