HAREM SCAREM – Rubber [Wounded Bird Records reissue]
With the recent HAREM SCAREM ‘The Ultimate Collection’, some of you asked for the band 2 albums released under the name RUBBER. Self-titled “Rubber” is the Canadians first album album using this moniker, however, in Japan it was released with the band name Harem Scarem.
This is the Wounded Bird Records reissue of “Rubber”, using the name Harem Scarem as well. In fact, this is exactly like the original Japan edition including a bonus track, and has different track order than the Canadian press.
I guess the most of you will already know, that Rubber are no-one else but the band formerly known as Harem Scarem. During the ’90s the Canadians have changed their style several times, avoiding repeat themselves.
By the end of the decade, Harem Scarem not only decided to morph their sound again, but also changed thier name to ‘Rubber’. The aim was a more modern sound, yet still melodic.
I remember reading back in the day some magazines comparing Rubber – both the band and the album – with bands like Mars Electric, Marvelous 3 and alike. That’s ridiculous.
While “Rubber” has a more direct, radio-ready rock approach (especially in the rhythm section) the album is still firmly planted in modern melodic rock, plenty of the catchiness Harem Scarem is known for.
The guitars are more straight and simple, but the hooks are also every bit intact, and background harmonies and melodies abound.
The album astutely avoids blatant commercialism, yet the songs have an instant appeal, and are clearly built on the same innate sense of melody and grasp of dynamics which marked out Harem Scarem as a cut above the rest back in 1992.
The songs are shorter, get to the point faster and exit on a high … consequently, it takes a few listens to appreciate the razor sharp production, and arrangements which have so much going on it’s easy to overlook some of the subtler touches.
There’s some really melodic numbers here such as the uptempo rocker “It’s Gotta Be,” the pure meltaway summer power pop of “Sunshine” (the album’s first single, and an almost sure-fire hit), and the guitar-heavy “Trip”.
“Who Buddy” is another standout track, mixing vintage rock n’ roll verses with a sublimely melodic, charged up, Cheap Trick-like chorus. Even here, there are hints of classic Harem in the harmony vocals and plenty of bite in Lesperance’s guitar work.
Then “Pool Party” matches pop-rock rhythms with waspish guitars and a chorus reminiscent of the first Harem Scarem two albums.
Closer ‘Everybody Else’ sees the band step well outside their new norms, using acoustic guitars and cellos to counterpoint Harry Hess’s forlorn, cry from the heart vocal performance, to a beat like the sound of distant thunder.
As reinventions go, “Rubber” is hugely impressive; if the half of major label modern rock debuts of the late ’90s were as consistent as this, we’d all be in heaven.
“Rubber” (and following album ‘Ultra Feel’) are different beasts in Harem Scarem’s discography but don’t be fooled; while modern in sound, the classic Harry Hess / Pete Lesperance melodies are all over the place.
01 – Its Gotta Be
02 – Who-Buddy
03 – Coming Down
04 – Stuck With You
05 – Sunshine
06 – Face It
07 – Trip
08 – Pool Party
09 – Headache
10 – Everybody Else
11 – Enemy (Bonus Track)
Harry Hess – lead vocals, guitar
Pete Lesperance – lead guitar, backing vocals
Barry Donaghy – bass, backing vocals
Darren Smith – drums, backing vocals
BUY IT !