By Caroline Wuertz
At first listen, Middle Class Rut’s newest album, Pick Up Your Head, seems to have a familiar feel, that resembles their first full-length album, No Name No Color, but further rotations expose Middle Class Rut’s musical development and experimentation with layering, sound effects and instrumentation.
The album opens with the explosive song, “Born Too Late,” whose title parallels the opening track off No Name No Color, “Busy Bein’ Born.” Musically, the track is a nod to their heavier influences, with vocals and electric guitar reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine. Having explored their roots, Middle Class Rut stretches their wings in tracks “Leech” and “Cut the Line,” demonstrating their musical maturation with new instrumentation – bass guitar, an instrument common on tour but new to the studio – and syncopated rhythms.
After dipping their toes into new waters, they slide back into familiarity with tracks “Sing While You Slave” and “You Don’t Belong.” The seventh track, “Dead Eye,” takes a break from the high-energy to slow down and contemplate decisions and regrets, driven by a soft cadence rhythm on snare. Following is the title track “Pick Up Your Head,” an enjoyable but repetitive tune with catchy percussion full of rim shots. The first single off the album, “Aunt Betty,” is a mixture of new and old, pulling the album together by combining their quintessential vocals and electric guitar distortion with experimental vocal effects, guitar melodies, and varying guitar and drum rhythms.
This album is a small step back lyrically from their first album with less political and personal poignancy, but it is a step forward musically, exploring new rhythms, melodies, and layering throughout several songs, while still pleasing fans of the first LP with an overall angst-driven, distortion-led musical tone and style.
Check out their single, “Aunt Betty,” and look for tour dates on their website here: http://mcrut.com/