I almost feel bad for Rozwell Kid. Most reviews I’ve read of the band pins them as “the next Weezer” whilst comparing frontman Jordan Hudkins to somewhat of a Rivers Cuomo understudy. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a great compliment but, c’mon, Rozwell Kid really proved with Precious Art to be their own band. With one of 2017’s funniest yet memorable albums, they don’t deserve a life in the shadows any longer.
Are these guys really that much like Weezer? The desperation is there in the lyrics, as is the self-pity – “you said it best when you said I’m a mess,” concedes Hudkins on ‘Total Mess’. In fact, the pop culture references are in there too (‘UHF on DVD’, ‘Michael Keaton’, ‘MadTV’).
Wait, these guys really are like Weezer! But now lets talk about the album in it’s own right. I’m putting a ban on talking, or even thinking, about any other band for the duration of this review.
‘Precious Art’ is a great power-pop album with elements of punk mixed with stories of childhood nostalgia and teenage angst. Stories are told with a backdrop of soaring dual guitars and distorted power chords. “It can be as dumb as you want it to be and it can be as serious as you want it to be,” admits Hudkins. Indeed, on the surface level, this is true.
Let’s look at a clear example of this from ‘Wish Man’: a minute segment from the album in which the singer asks a wish man to turn him into a dog before barking the rest of the verse. Is this a humorous abstract situation Hudkins has thought up, or a quick analogy warning the listener, quite obviously, to be careful what they wish for?
Such depth to the lyrics are what I find so interesting about ‘Precious Art’.
For a band that once described themselves as “the musical equivalent of a convertible PT Cruiser with flames painted down the side,” it’s unsurprising that in acoustic-driven melody ‘MadTV’, Hudkins dreams that someday “I’ll be the best, sucking up what I missed on a VHS.” In this sense, the band has realised its potential of making it big by sharing their nerdy experiences – singing about SeaQuest reruns at 3 in the morning (‘Boomerang’), trying to answer a phone to a love interest to find a booger on the screen (‘Booger’) and a screenplay to a film about hunting down Michael Keaton to tell him what a great Batman he was in 1989 (‘Michael Keaton’).
Yet whilst these dreams are realised, we find Hudkins lamenting in ‘UHF on DVD’: “all I want is to be at home with you, eatin’ tacos and watching UHF on DVD” – UHF, of course, in reference to the cult 1989 film by Weird Al Yankovich.
Whilst Hudkins has fulfilled his childhood dream of writing popular music of the things that meant the most to him as a kid, the newfound glistening heights bear great responsibility. All the fame, the attention and the Weezer comparisons (I’m going to break my rule here but it seems fitting) have created a demand for the band. They’re doing what they love, doing what they have always dreamed of doing – but can they do this forever? How many stories of self-degradation can they tell before they become a fully-fledged tragedy?
It can be lonely at the top and Hudkins seems to have realised this in ‘Gameball’, singing: “I’m just being myself out here, I don’t even know where to run, I just dance by myself out here.”
Aside from the deep undertones of the album, let’s finally focus on the lead single. ‘Wendy’s Trash Can’ is no-nonsense power punk reminiscent of The Thermal’s 2006 hit ‘Here’s Your Future’. “It’s just about disillusionment and despair,” Hudkins told Bandcamp, “trying to figure this shit out and maybe not making the best decisions or the right decisions but you made a decision and you’re doing it.”
Perhaps we can conclude, on that note, that the meaning behind ‘Wendy’s Trash Can’, the strongest song on the album with ‘Michael Keaton’ a close second, both represents the album itself and encapsulates the path Rozwell Kid have put themselves on.
For me, this album is one of my favourites; I come back to it time and time again. If it weren’t for the songs ‘Futon’ and ‘Booger’ – songs that just feel like fillers with no real muscle on a strong album – it would garner a much higher score. Still, with this album, Rozwell Kid stepped out the shadows, became their own band with their own sound. One that’s just as good as Weezer’s.
Verdict: 8 out of 10