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The ukulele, often typecast as the darling of twee indie-folk troubadours or the playful accessory wielded by those seeking a quick gimmick, finds a rebellious spirit in the sonic landscape of the Rocket Kings. Yes, they strum those four strings, but they channel a vibe that resonates with the essence of pop luminaries such as The Wedding Present, Teenage Fanclub, and Supergrass.
How do they achieve this alchemy? For one, they don’t view their instrument as a mere gimmick but rather as a captivating and unexpectedly versatile tool for their sonic palette. Secondly, they possess the art of penning darn good tunes, and their newly unleashed opus, “Paving The Way,” is teeming with these little gems.
Look no further than their current single, “She’s Gone To Mars,” a buoyant and exuberant cosmic escapade devoid of any folkish inclinations. As some wise soul once proclaimed, “This Is Pop!” and it holds true here. Set aside the preconceived notions and surrender to the music. Let it move you, make you dance, toss your cares to the wind; it’s that infectious, that compelling.
“The Yellow Bird of Fortune” glides with an effortless groove, spiced up by sassy brass interludes, while “Dream Undream” saunters in as a gentle waltz. “Tall Tale Teller” jangles and sways, evoking a contemporary twist on The Byrds’ sonic legacy, while the title track stands as a poised, bucolic masterpiece of perfectly calibrated pop, a rare occasion where the band ventures close to a sound commonly associated with their chosen musical weapon.
Paving The Way accomplishes a multitude of feats, not the least of which involves dispelling the hackneyed image associated with the ukulele. Above all, it underscores a vital truth: that, like any other instrument, it’s merely a tool of the trade. The real artistry lies in crafting tunes that ensnare, enthrall, and embed themselves in your consciousness—a contagion of melody, an infectious and indelible imprint. Rocket Kings appear to have no trouble in that department.
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