What will Big Troubles sound like five years from now? Ten years? Fifteen? With bands that have logged decades in the business it’s easy now for all involved to look back and understand how each one came about in the context of a particular era in music, how each influenced, and was influenced by, its contemporaries, and how each cultivated its own identity across time and genres.
Big Troubles have committed two years so far. A drop in the bucket, though an eventful drop, to be certain. New Jersey natives Alex Craig and Ian Drennan began recording music on their own in their bedrooms, added two more members and cut a debut album, Worry, late last year and a second album last month.
Genre-wise, Big Troubles are pop-rock. And yet it possesses that rare ability to draw out the best aspects of the musical movements that preceded it. The result is something unlike the current commercial pop music. It shows a deeper appreciation of music.
Stylistically, the new album, Romantic Comedy, doesn’t differ from Worry. Both albums owe a great deal to 80s synth-pop, grunge and post-grunge alt-rock and ambient and chill-out music. Craig and Drennan trade vocalist duties and sing with a breathy, far-away tone that could have been employed, at one time or another, by acts as diverse as The Cure, The Gandharvas, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck or Nada Surf.
Technically, Romantic Comedy is head and shoulders above Worry. Due to the limitations of available equipment, the vocals on the first album are all but lost amidst the swirl of fuzzy guitars, keyboards and pre-programmed drum beats. Romantic Comedy’s higher production value allows Craig and Drennan’s starry-eyed, yet well-written lyrics to stand out against the echoy, uptempo compositions.
The album is a lot of fun and comes across as the soundtrack to a summer romance or road trip while still channeling the young-adult emotional turmoil brought about by facing an increasingly uncertain future.
So what will Big Troubles sound like years from now? One hopes the band continues to develop its sound and identity by incorporating the best parts of future musical styles, whatever they may be.