Rookie of the Year – Sweet Attention
Release Date: August 5, 2008
Record Label: 111 Records
When Rookie of the Year released The Goodnight Moon in 2006, they sort of epitomized the idea of a band that was in the right place at the right time. That is not at all to say that they weren’t talented – it just seemed that the style of music Rookie was making aligned perfectly with where listeners’ tastes were headed. One half of their sound capitalized on the sensitive brand of introspection broken open by Copeland (among others), while the other half appealed to the straight up pop leanings that was overtaking the scene as a whole (see: the progression of pop-“punk” in the past two years). No matter which half spoke to each listener personally, the record did a great job of bridging the gap between hypersensitive emo and bubble gum pop, meeting fans of both at the intersection.
If The Goodnight Moon was a bit of a winter record – one to be listened to inside on headphones on a cloudy day, then Sweet Attention is much more a summer record conducive to full blast, windows down driving. Sure, there are some sappy intros and interludes that will get you strange looks from the bros in their tricked out Trans-Ams, but the statement of the overall vibe stands true. “Feel Like New” picks up the pace right away, showing an iteration of the band brimming with confidence and embracing their pop sensibilities more than ever before. The song sounds downright huge, with swirling guitar wails and crashing percussion rounded off with a grandiose chorus. Get used to this type of song, as it continues onto the next few numbers, “Fall Asleep With You” and “Falling from the Sky.”
The band finally seems to slow things down during the beginning of “Summer,” which begins drenched in beautiful acoustic guitar but after less than a minute, the track begins an inexplicable buildup to a chorus akin to almost every other track on the record. It is a baffling decision, and makes you wonder what the band is thinking – why do they insist on shying away from slower, softer material? Of course, it increases the song’s marketability as a potential single, but it almost kills the track’s vibe, with the noisy hook clashing uncomfortably with the somber verses and bridge. This frustration becomes rather common on Sweet Attention, as “Sooner or Later (The Next Move)” and the closer “Savannah” are the only two true hushed, bleeding-heart offerings on the album – the results of which are extremely favorable. “Savannah” is especially notable for its gorgeous minimalism and focus - exactly the type of track I was craving through the previous eleven.
Though the rest of Sweet Attention is much more transient and pop-skewed than most of The Goodnight Moon, there are indeed some very bright spots. “What Is Love” (not to be confused by the Haddaway classic, of course) dabbles in the slow/fast, soft/loud dichotomy that defines the album, and with its catchy (if uninventive) hook, could be the type of single to snare new followers, while “Any Longer” reveals the gestation of RotY’s pop chops in full bloom, with one of the most developed choruses the band has ever crafted. Stepping out into unfamiliar territory, “Vampire Vegas” finds the troupe piecing together an almost sexy, darker tune that sounds nothing like you’d expect from past indicators, but is both extremely welcome and cool.
From a lyrical standpoint, Sweet Attention can range from the good to borderline cringe-worthy, with lines like “Fall asleep with you, this is what we do” but from a macroscopic view, that is easily negated by Matt Malpass’ extraordinary production talents. He did an incredible job on The Goodnight Moon, and he upholds his own high standard here. Acoustic notes are defined and crisp, vocals are cleaned up and layered perfectly into an exhilarating package – a splendid complement to some great headphones or speakers.
Listeners often complain that they don’t want Band X to release version 2.0 of a previous work, but in the case of Rookie of the Year, that would not have been a bad thing in the least. Instead of going down that path, however, the boys here have changed their sounds to support a different mood and vibe entirely. While generally praiseworthy, it is impossible not to miss the poignancy of The Goodnight Moon. Every one of us loves to tap our toes to glossy pop anthems, sure, but where are the tracks like “Enjoy This Drive,” “The Weekend,” “The Blue Roses,” and “Life, Fall Fast Now”? Those are not only the songs that made me fall in love with this band but gave them a voice to distinguish themselves from the hordes of other groups out there, but with Sweet Attention, this voice and identity seems to be fading. There is certainly no denying that Rookie of the Year have a knack for writing great pop songs, but in another year or two, I will be far more likely to be spinning The Goodnight Moon over Sweet Attention.
This review is a user submitted review from Steve Henderson. You can see all of Steve Henderson's submitted reviews here.
"What Is Love" is probably one of the worst songs I've heard. The demo really was awesome and had be excited for this album. But generally, this album gets really boring and I can only go back to listen to 3-4 songs.
I'm a huge rookie fan. The Goodnight Moon, in my opinion was absolutely amazing and did not recieve the attention it deserved. Sweet Attention seems to have a lot of work being put in to it. If the Goodnight Moon got that, who knows?
I'm excited for this release, very excited. But I was expecting it to not be anything like The Goodnight Moon, and idk how I feel about that.
Let's go - I didn't buy any songs on Amazon today so I can get some 5 piece nuggets and a jr. bacon cheeseburger!
yes i have quite the bankroll with the lack of news posts on the main page haha. Not putting you to fault, just no news worthy deals to mention. oh well ill buy bigger and better things such as the jr bacon cheeseburger you mentioned haha