Birthed from a collaboration spanning three years, Australian rock royalty Tim Rogers and funk/soul legends The Bamboos have conceived a lovechild entitled The Rules Of Attraction.
The combination of unashamedly brazen Australian pub rock singer Tim Rogers and the smooth, retro soul vibes of The Bamboos may seem to be an unlikely partnership to some, but there just may be something about The Rules Of Attraction that works.
With sixteen tracks featured on the album, listeners won’t be left hankering for more minutes of sultry funk arrangements and screeching Hammond organ solos. Yet there seems to be something a little half-hearted about the whole affair. It’s difficult not to have high expectations for an album like this, however I found Tim Rogers’ presence on the album leaving a little to be desired. It’s difficult to tell whether Rogers feels comfortable in what he attempts to achieve vocally, especially in the falsetto domain.
Perhaps I’m simply measuring him up against the powerful soul diva stylings of main vocalist and front-woman Kylie Auldist, but I felt Rogers’ delivery of long falsetto passages was a little feeble; even tentative at times. Take the vocals in the title track ‘The Rules Of Attraction’ for instance: sitting amidst doo-wop style 60s Motown throwback instrumentation with tight backing vocals and a strong arrangement, Rogers’ vocals feel juvenile and under-presented.
It’s almost as if The Bamboos enlisted their drunk uncle to join them as a sympathetic gesture after he’s downed a bottle of room temperature Jameson’s whiskey. The result sounds like a wailing karaoke performance from said drunk uncle performing to a room of geriatric pokie-pushers.
One redeeming quality of Rogers’ involvement is the stark and somber poeticism in the lyrics, and the odd well-placed howling Jimmy Barnes-esque growl. Sadly, not even Lance Ferguson’s prodigious production can paint over the weak vocal performance in the majority of otherwise stirring instrumentally sound soul tracks. Interestingly, the standout tracks off The Rules Of Attraction for me are the demo versions of the singles that occur at the end of the album – and in particular, ‘Easy’.
These takes seem to retain more of the authenticity of what I imagine the songs originally had, with the ‘Easy’ demo exuding an almost early disco house vibe in the piano and backing vocals. This is much better suited to Rogers’ vocal stylings in this context and the substance in the delivery of the melody is preserved – it’s almost as if Rogers is better suited to the stark instrumentation. It’s easy enough to get drowned out amongst full-blown brass arrangements and roaring Hendrix-style guitar riffs (unless you’re Kylie Auldist, of course).
The ‘Handbrake’ demo is a lamentation to unrequited love sung in the key of the blues; “you’re like a handbrake, got me stuck in one place/could be just what I need”. Again, the stark instrumentation is perhaps better suited to the arrangement of the track in this context. Here, Rogers’ vocals soar over the top of chunky electric guitar accompaniment, at times joining the guitar riff before taking off again.
Perhaps the drunk uncle karaoke sessions floats your boat, but The Rules Of Attraction left me wanting more.
The Rules of Attraction is due out on the 22nd of May via Warner.