The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: June 3rd, 2016
Record Label: Easy Star Records
Official Website: Rebelution Website
For over a decade, Rebelution has been at the forefront of the reggae rock world. The chart-topping band formed in Isla Vista, CA in 2004, breaking out with their 2007 debut full-length Courage To Grow. Despite losing singer and guitarist Matt Velasquez in the band’s early years, Eric Rachmany (lead vocals and guitar) took control of the reins, guiding the band through several incredibly successful albums. In addition to Rachmany, Rebelution consists of Rory Carey on the keyboard, Wesley Finley behind the kit, and Marley Williams on the bass. Their game-changing 2012 triple-disc album Peace of Mind featured dub and acoustic versions of every song. Over the years, Rebelution has built up an enormous global following, selling out venues and headlining festivals, while converting both rock and roots purists onto their dynamic, progressive reggae rock blend.
I doubt Rebelution ever felt they had anything to prove on Falling into Place, but I was looking for a quick rebound from the overall lackluster performance on their last album, Count Me In. There’s a parade of hits to lead off the album, each with a profound energy and crispness, but the album fizzles out sharply at the midway point, only occasionally regaining its steam.
Falling into Place is quite a mixed bag, possessing plenty of moments of vintage Rebelution, as well as a few glaring examples of the pop-heavy Rebelution.
The first track, “Know It All,” starts off blazing hot with a fiery verse from Rachmany, setting the early tone. “Inhale Exhale” keeps the momentum rolling with a brief, but powerful feature from reggae’s rising superstar, Protoje, who puts it perfectly, “highest from Jamaica meets the highest from the West.”
“Upper Hand” is more of a pop-track than a reggae song, becoming one of my guilty pleasures from the record. “Lay My Claim” is a standout track that features a gripping three-way back-and-forth between Rachmany’s voice, his guitar and the horn section. It’s easily the best fretwork displayed throughout the album.
The second half of Falling into Place has a few bright moments, but doesn’t connect nearly as much as the first 5 songs. After “Pretty Lady,” Falling into Place begins its slow descent. “Those Days” is a reflective song held together more so by Rachmany’s story than anything going on musically. However, tucked snugly towards the end of the album is “Mirage,” a quiet favorite that’s a slow, dreamy song with caressing vocals, similar to “Closer I Get” from Peace of Mind. “High On Life” and “Breakdown” conclude the album on completely contrasting notes. One being up-beat and energetic, the other somber and sad — Both mediocre.
The captivating guitar riffs that have come to define Rebelution’s sound are just not present at all on this album. It’s puzzling considering Rachmany is one of the best guitar players in the genre, and has shown a knack for writing clever, attention-grabbing guitar riffs. There aren’t really any of those classic keyboard intros from Rory Carey, either. Every song sort of jumps right into the thick of the track without giving us any taste of those patented Rebelution lead-ins.
Falling into Place is a conundrum in my eyes. It’s an album that’s really easy to get through, and the majority of songs possess a degree of likability. But at the same time, there aren’t any groundbreaking songs or absolute must-listens either. Falling Into Place is less run-of-the-mill as Count Me In, but is ultimately unable to reach the levels attained on the group’s first three albums. It’s a step in the right direction for the Isla Vista quartet, but to be fair, just a half-step.
1.) Know It All
2.) Inhale Exhale (feat. Protoje)
3.) Upper Hand
4.) Lay My Claim
5.) Pretty Lady
6.) Santa Barbara
7.) Those Days
8.) Free up Your Mind
10.) High on Life
Written & Reviewed By: Brian Winters