From the first five seconds of listening to Return For Refund’s self-titled album, I had already made two observations. One; this guitar playing is amazing, and two; have we found a modern day Alice Cooper? Both of those factors excited me a great deal. As I continued to listen, I realized that while those observations are accurate, there is a lot more to Return For Refund. The catchy and heavy guitar riffs, the grooved up bass lines, along with the tight drum beats drive this hard rock album though the roof. Drew Clementino, Sasha Molotkow, and Karlis Hawkins provide us with the complexities of a great rock album, but manage to remain accessible to a large audience. The riffs will stay in your head for hours after you listen.
As I previously mentioned, the album opens with quite a bang as the Alice Cooper and Soundgarden influences are clear from the get go. “The Fields” introduces the band in its purest form. The clarity of the instruments on the recording shows fantastic production value. There are moments of heightened energy carried by the heavy electric guitar, but they show a softer side in the bridge, which is carried by the bass. Allowing the song to take on a slightly different form for a short time paved the way for an explosive and impressive electric guitar solo. These musical choices fueled the intensity of the big moments as well as the more subtle moments, alike. “TV Light” took a similar approach as “The Fields” with the strong and catchy riff. The part of “TV Light” that excited me was later in the track when an electric guitar played the song’s riff a few octaves higher, as the original riff was played simultaneously. Then, they pushed it even further by having the higher pitched notes harmonizing with the original riff. The product was a great, constantly building sound, and it presented the listeners with something exciting to grasp onto.
The album takes a turn with “Between My Sheets,” and the song’s sexual implications are simply an added bonus. The chorus is extremely catchy, as I found myself singing along after only my second time listening. Instead of the notes in the guitar riff being played staccato the whole time, the verse allows the electric guitar room to reverberate. It’s a nice change of pace, as it also introduces the listener to another side of their music. The album exhibits aspects of punk music in “Yolo.” The vocals in this song are some of the strongest on the album. The intricate drumming on this track is reminiscent of Travis Barker’s in Blink-182’s record Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. “Some Is Better Than None,” exhibits more of a funk sound, yet stays true to the musical themes of the album. I rather enjoyed this deviation, and figured that the last track on the album might revert back to the original sound. I was wrong, and pleasantly surprised.
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“Those Bombs” is my favorite track on the album due to its unexpected appearance, as well as its upbeat melody. The lyrics state “there’s no place where I would rather be even with those bombs flying over me.” He sings of the loud sirens, the locals who “spit on me,” and how it has been months since he has “seen something green.” By the end of the song, he realizes, “there’s somewhere where I would rather be.” We’ve all been in that place of trying to convince ourselves that we are happy, when in fact, we are just getting by. What I love about the message of these lyrics is that he realizes by the end that he “can’t take this no more.” While it may be delivered in the form of a musically upbeat melody and rhythm, to realize that you’ve had enough, and you are ready to move on to what truly makes you happy is an extremely potent message. That concluded the album, and I must say; I really enjoyed it. From the heavy riffs, to the sporadic punk vibes, to the fun melody and the depth in the lyrics of “Time Bombs,” this is an album I endorse entirely.
Article by: Alex Feigin