Posted March 01, 2016
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
It would be near impossible to name another artist as dedicated to their craft as The Rocket Summer's Bryce Avary. With a relentless work ethic tempered by just enough sunny pop attitude, the one man band's brand of alt rock has been a mainstay from the early days of songs like "So Much Love" and "Do You Feel" through more mature offerings like "Walls" and "Just For a Moment Forget Who You Are."
Zoetic is the latest studio offering from The Rocket Summer, a project fans waited four years to hear. Bryce Avary holed himself away in his personal studio, took a break from touring, and dug deep into the recesses of his creativity to birth his most edgy project yet-- a record which, suitably given the title (which means "of or relating to life, living, vital"), feels infectiously alive from beginning to end.
Lead single "Same Air" is a great example of this album's larger-than-life aura. With some electronic elements providing the pulse and vocals that range from ethereal and clear to gritty and forceful, the song expresses a kind of transcendent unity with the lyrics "everyone and everything, every soul, every being / the same air we all are breathing, one shared pulse collectively beating."
Bryce Avary has expressed that he feels this is the heaviest album musically he has ever produced, and it's a statement that is given weight by songs like "UNI" with its infectious guitar groove and the quirky but introspective "Get Over It." The incredibly catchy "FL, CA" talks about an explosive relationship ("hey I warned you, it's a mess, she's a hurricane and you're Florida / she's California and you're an earthquake"), propelled by bombastic guitar riffs.
Lyrically, Zoetic draws to the fore a hallmark The Rocket Summer trait: an ability to evoke both bittersweet nostalgia and vivid hope that is keenly immediate, often in the same song. "White Fireworks" is a standout track that reminds of early 2000s alt rock club shows with its musical grit while walking through vivid imagery: "I wait for it, the white fireworks erupt and my heart is whole again." Lush, electronic "You Are, You Are" offers an earnest voice of redemption in the lyrics "when the night sheds a light on the guilt, you're beautiful. / When memories of failed attempts fire at will, you're beautiful. / When hate like sheets of rain drown your hope once plentiful, you are, you are / still are, still are / you are beautiful."
As Zoetic wraps with "Sharks" and "Emergency Landings," two tracks that draw from The Rocket Summer legacy while upping the energy and musical ante, it's clear that this album strikes the balance beautifully between innovating and preserving the best of an already established sound. The vibrant album plays like the soundtrack for a roadtrip or a summer adventure-- a role it is doubtless going to fill for many.
The Bottom Line: Fiercely alive, comfortable in its own skin and effortlessly embodying the best of the alt rock ethos, The Rocket Summer's Zoetic promises to hold up to countless repeat plays.
Song to Download Now:
"Same Air" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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