The Rogers Sisters’ 2002 debut, Purely Evil, had the good fortune of being released as the new-wave/post-punk revival was getting its legs. The album didn’t sell gangbusters, but the group’s angular take on B-52’s-style pop was scruffier and significantly more fun than Interpol‘s deadpan Joy Division, for whatever that was worth.
As the members of Interpol or, say, the Strokes will tell you, the problem with being part of any revival is twofold: (1) by the time X band gets around to its second album, the scene has usually moved onto something else, and (2) although it’s fine and dandy for a debut to be a genre exercise, some form of progress or sign of evolution is expected on album number two.
The good news for the Rogers Sisters is that, in the time between Purely Evil and its full-length follow-up, The Invisible Deck, the scene has evolved surprisingly little. Sure, the trucker cap has come and gone (thankfully), but Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Futureheads have new albums out, and if the folks I pass on my daily sojourn down Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg are any indication, the 1980s revival is alive and doing quite well, thank you.
For their part, the members of the Rogers Sisters — Jennifer Rogers (vocals/guitar), Laura Rogers (drums/vocals), and Miyuki Furtado (vocals/bass) — have nominally risen to the occasion by maturing as a band. On The Invisible Deck, the playing is tighter and more confident, and the production shimmers whereas before, to be generous, it harkened back to the down-rent days of the original new-wave era. But those changes are subtle; what else can a group that sounds like the Raincoats covering “52 Girls” do but evolve into one that sounds like the Breeders covering the same song?
The Rogers Sisters have attempted to solve the problem by largely dispensing with the harmonies and call-and-response vocals that made Purely Evil so much fun. In their place are guitar squalls and driving rhythms that, while effective on the fantastically driving “The Light” and possible future mixtape classic “The Clock” (wherein we are told what the cluck struck), are mostly just clunky.
As a result, The Invisible Deck is more alt-rock than new wave; there is an eight-minute song here, “The Conversation,” that comes off like something long-forgotten Richmond, Virginia indie group Fudge might have stuck on 1993’s The Ferocious Rhythm of Precise Laziness. More significantly, the fun is gone. On The Invisible Deck, the Rogers Sisters sound like just another band.