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Album Review : The Rocket Dolls – The Art Of Disconnect

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May 2020 sees Brighton based trio, The Rocket Dolls, release the follow up to their 2018 critically acclaimed album DeadHead’. Over the past 2 years the band has toured extensively, playing festivals such as Hard Rock Hell, Ramblin’ Man and Planet Rockstock and are now set to unleash the brand new album ‘The Art Of Disconnect’.

The band are one of the many affected by  the PledgeMusic crisis but undeterred, they re-launched the fund-raising campaign from their own merch store, breaking through the target thanks to their loyal fans. 

I first saw these boys live about 12 months ago when they supported Massive Wagons at The Booking Hall, Dover. It surprised me that they had been on the circuit for around 11 years at the time, as they had a definite raw quality about them. With this release it might be time for more people to sit up and take notice of The Rocket Dolls. 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neuZi2uE13o&w=560&h=315]

The album opens with a gentle piano and vocal intro of the title track, before driving guitars, drums and Nikki Smash’s vocals lift the tempo with a piano that runs through the track to great effect. Make no mistake this is a great opener. Next up is ‘Enthusiasm & Fumes’ which was the first single taken off the album in December 2019 and is all about Smash’s battle with insomnia.

It opens like a freight train with more big riffs, and lots of harmonies and thunders through the next 3 minutes closely followed by ‘It Comes At A Price’ which continues the big sound with more killer riffs and a thumping bass line. What comes through loud and clear 3 tracks in, is that here is a band making the music they want to make and nailing it. 

The Grip’ is next up, which was the highly successful second single off the album, with Benji Knopfler coming to the fore with his thumping drums, which saw the band get featured on Planet Rock and BBC Radio 2

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdtJ-xrRWqY&w=560&h=315]

The album kicks on with The Clear Light Of Self Hatred’ a full on track with punk and grunge influences and Smash in fine voice – I was already sold, but then that riff in the last 45 seconds? Oh my life, what a killer. 

At last, we get to take a breath as the pace is slowed for ‘Grin And Bare It’ , which gives the band a chance to show a different side with stringsa 12 string guitar and a lighter sound overall, which still works so well, so it’s a little surprising that this track hasn’t been released as one of the early singles.

It’s certainly good enough. The slowdown doesn’t last long as we move along into ‘Who I’ve Become’ which returns us to the grunge influenced sound once again.   

Nikki Smash claims that the next track, ‘Habit Machine’, is the single most ambitious song that The Rocket Dolls have ever attempted. It includes a piano solo, a 12 string guitar, a string arrangement and an alternative vocal performance from Smash. The result is an emotional number which moves away from the normal grunge influenced sound and it works well for them

Returning to the heavier sound for ‘Slow Motion Ruin’ & ‘Blueprint Breakdown’, the trio come together to give us two big rockin’ numbers before the more pop orientated ‘If I Could Trade Me For A Day’ which goes off at another tangent, allowing the band to show their diversity and at just under 2 minutes, this is short and sweet.

As we near the album finale Straight Jacket bursts into life and jumps around through 3 different time signatureswith a heavy bass and a solid rock feel about it. ‘Stubborn’ brings the album to a close all too soon as it wraps things up complete with strings and piano and a dreamy feel throughout. 

There is no doubt that this is a big ambitious project for The Rocket Dolls, having bought in Brighton based producer George Donoghue, who also contributed to the song writing and guitar work and Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro) to mix. They were due to be promote the album with a world tour taking in the UK, Japan, Spain, Australia, Germany & France, which has now been put on ice due to Covid-19, but don’t let that stop you.  

This is a great album that deserves to be heard, from a band that has truly come of age.   

The Art Of Disconnect is released on 1st May 2020. 

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The Rocket Dolls are:  

Nikki SmashVocals, Guitars 

Joe Constable Bass, Backing Vocals 

Benji Knopfler Drums 

 Reviewed by : Howard Whitelaw (April 2020)  for MPM

 

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