TJ Roberts “Love, Loss & Other Useless Things”

Rose Parade Recording Co., 2020

Thoroughly competent guitar-driven indie-pop from a fast developing band.

TJ Roberts has undergone quite a transition in a short time since 2019’s ‘Best New Reissue’. That debut album was essentially a solo project, whereas their latest effort is much more of band album and key differences in their sound are apparent. They have an ear for a guitar hook and the contribution of additional band members to the song structure is evident. The result is ostensibly sparkly indie-pop rock combined effectively with introspective and personal lyrics, as indicated in the album title. “I am definitely writing more for the TJ Roberts band. It’s a strange feeling as a songwriter, that your music takes on its own life and that the musical persona of TJ Roberts begins to dictate the direction of sound”.

The album launches in at a brisk pace with ‘Battling for Facts’ where “your truth is up for sale“, firmly showcasing their musicianship and songwriting capabilities. The song has a pause followed by a heavier solo reprise. ‘The Redundancy Song’ shows exactly how band cooperation has enabled the development of a well-crafted pop rock song about a rather depressing subject in a surprisingly jubilant manner. ‘Passed out on a Hollywood Star’ is the single off the album and is an effectively structured example of their style. Possibly the best track on the album is ‘I Hope We Never Slow Down’ on the subject of body dysmorphia. It begins gently and builds steadily throughout to end the album on a high note.

Overall the album is well produced and structured and they manage to pull off most of the things they try, although some of the elements don’t stitch together as seamlessly as they might. “If the first album was a mixtape of ideas this album is a songbook with lyrics and music being placed equally side-by-side”. There are several developing influences happening here; their transition from a solo artist to a band, the Brit pop-rock and indie strands challenge for the overall sound and a more gentle mid-atlantic nod towards Americana. They have developed an effective combination of upbeat musicianship with relatively dark subject matter. “It’s amazing,” says TJ, shaking his head in disbelief as he reflects on the band’s progression since their last release. “I’ve gone from this lonely solo artist to having a group of best-friends who just love ripping together”. Lets hope they keep their obvious enthusiasm and continue to develop their craft.

6/10
6/10

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