This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by Rhode Island. The review was written by James Stringer in 2002.
Rhode Island all come from Leeds. You will never have heard of them. This is because their current CD goes under a different guise. Anyone remember Stealthman? Unfortunately A levels, work and Uni has robbed them from Leeds' music scene, but this CD shows much of their early promise. Self-produced at home using computers and re-worked samples of their former drummers beats, I'm listening to a decent pop rock record. Songs with a tune! Will Turner's voice gets better every time I hear it and this is shown in the up-beat opener, "Something to put together".
A new working of "With Love and Squalor" is upbeat and very intelligently produced, with great vocal harmonies, solid drums and rocking guitars fighting with synths and guitar harmonics and even a sitar outro. "We know" is a really old song. I remember hearing this about 3 or 4 years ago and loving it. Piano led with beautiful lead guitar, this song is uplifting and seemingly defiant lyrically, musically building to a great climax - from guitars feeding back and piano melodies to double time jamming and rocking out from the instant the singer says "go!"
"Moon up" is a laid back electric piano, synth and guitar number with a change of vocalist. The song's dynamics change the song from smooth and soft to more sinister before the end of the track. The brilliant song writing skills and musicianship are on display in the lyrically intelligent 'Ralphi and Me' (bad grammar there boys) with the introduction of clarinet to compliment the guitar and piano and solid bass playing. 'Snowball' is another example of the excellent songwriting and humour in this one with the very sexual references (''I saw it dripping off her face - she said that it felt nice... she tasted the ice in her mouth and we had a snowball fight"). For a song to tell a story like this does is always interesting, and the song is actually very catchy. These guys don't just do pop rock either - 'Silver Screen' is techno electronica that Aphex Twin would be proud of. The penultimate track, 'Snowbound' is a rocking distorted guitar led one, complete with obligatory rocking solo - here we have an example of they'd sound like if they rocked out a bit more. The songs are great but I often get the feeling that they're afraid to rock, and even though this is a great record I get the feeling that they're only almost there... like they keep toying with the idea of really letting go, but backing out at the last minute.
The closing track is the brilliant 'Talk Bohemian', which is musically and lyrically fantastic incorporating beautiful vocal harmonies with acoustic guitar and the occasional string sound. The track is soft and uplifting and leaves with a false ending or secret track maybe, of acoustic guitar, foot tapping and whistling. I get a warm feeling from listening to the end of this. If you can get hold of a copy, save it - listen to it, because it's great.