The Rifles’ new album ‘Big Life’ stands out from their others, but without any personal development.
‘Big Life’ was described as “sonic experimentation” but is everything we’ve heard before, but worse.
For me, personally, music should be interesting. And if it’s not interesting, it should at least sound good. If it doesn’t sound good, it has to have some kind of deeper meaning or connotation in the bigger picture. If it doesn’t have that, it should at least be fun, right? The Rifles’ ‘Big Life’ has none of these qualities.
’Big Life’ is a double album and marks the fifth studio release by The Rifles. The peak of their success was in a time when the UK indie scene was a huge thing and millions were absolutely loving it. Maybe 10 years ago, this album, especially songs like ‘Groundhog Day’, could’ve been a big hit – if it wasn’t a slightly off-kilter sampler compilation that’s accidentally been layered over and over again, somewhere in the process.
But hey, not everyone can reinvent a genre or challenge established hooks and elements of popular music – and that’s perfectly fine! In this case, however, the way an album is produced could make up for a lot. But the bass is so awkwardly placed (somewhere right beneath the vocals, especially in the ‘Turtle Dove’) that it’s very disorienting to listen to. The whole production sounds as monotonous and flat as a proverbial pancake.
But what about background and in-depth connotations? The Rifles are not gonna change the world. And with lyrics like “Victoria, where did you go? The light’s are still on in the street where you live but there’s nobody home” in ‘Victoria’, deeper meaning eludes me.
Love songs can be fun. Or rather they could be, if Joel Stoker had at least tried to sound in any way excited about what he’s singing. Or if the drummer didn’t sound like a computer most of the time and the guitarist had used a pedal or, dare I say two, in the making of this album. And while intentions might as well have been different, everything about ‘Big Life’ sounds like a forced revival album of a band that doesn’t even want to do it anymore.