Returning to a childhood home to make a record sounds like a last stab at rejuvenation for some stereotypical burnout rock star. It’s something we’d expect from, oh, say Pete Doherty, not a New York band working on its debut full-length.
Of course, Rahim has already planted its seed in our minds with 2005’s Jungles EP. So it’s not like the band had nothing to escape when Phil Sutton, Michael Friedrich and Ryan McCoy returned to Sutton’s childhood home on Long Island. That four-song EP featured three diverse voices – circular drumming, slashing guitar and meandering bass all beneath two-part vocal harmonies – that appeared to move in separate directions yet always forward as a musical unit. Four songs and still the need for change – sounds like a band in search of itself. Exciting.
With Ideal Lives, Rahim takes what it started with and shuffles the hand a bit. And nothing could have been a better launching-off point than Jungles, which essentially made its mark by presenting skeletons of songs as the actual songs – the whole “no, let’s just leave it at this” mindset. Much of this idea continues on Ideal Lives, but the band relies more on melody than dissonance, progress than repetition, movement than stagnancy.
Rahim’s skeletal recipe manifests itself with opener “KlangKlangKlang,” which, aside from the distinct drums, bass and guitar, tosses in simple trumpet for flavor. On tracks such as this and “Something From an Amputee,” the band remains close to its initial blueprint, making songs such as “Only Pure” and “Forever Love” so fascinating in comparison. The drums strike with forward momentum, the bass seems somewhat harnessed, and the keys – my god, the keys complement the vocal harmonies so damn well. And then when the extremes collide on songs such as “10,000 Horses“, it’s like Rahim has finally hit its stride.
The band wasn’t necessarily running from something when it shipped out to Long Island. Rather, it was cautiously looking for the proper next step to take, and it seems like Rahim has found it. If Jungles presented the formula, Ideal Lives gives us the answer. The damn thing was a little difficult to figure out – the band members didn’t give us much to work with – but we’re glad they at least got our attention.
Video preview of Ideal Lives