In the year 2000, a band of five cadets came together to form the illustrious Phenomenauts. With Science and Honor in mind, these galactic pioneers, led by Commanders Angel Nova and Joe Bot, recorded the wonderfully fresh and original album Rockets And Robots. Blending together rockabilly, punk, and good old-fashioned rock‘n’roll, the quintet quickly became loved by all who witnessed their involving stage show.
Four years, tons of shows, a new label and a pair of EPs later, the Phenomenauts have released a new album, aptly titled Re-Entry. The Phenomenauts have matured quite a bit over those last few years, and this record shows it. Delving into even more styles than their last album, the band’s trademark “rocket roll” sound develops with an even more obvious 50's influence than their first effort. Thankfully, they keep the rockabilly and punk sound in there as well, keeping the album from sounding too much like a 50's movie soundtrack. The production is also much better than it was on their first album, but without sounding too overproduced.
The first track, “Mission,” leads the album off flawlessly. Starting out with a nice, subtle intro, it quickly becomes a fast chant that’ll have you singing along in seconds. “Progress Vs. Pettiness” is another great song, with some excellent crooning vocals, accompanied by a chant of "First Stage, Second Stage, Third Stage, LET’S GO!" The instrumentals are awesome as well, with a nice little head-banging outro. “Hurry Let’s Go” sounds like it’s building to something for the first thirty seconds, and delivers with a nice chorus. “I Am Robot” is another fun track, chugging along with more catchy vocals.
“Where Is The X-38?” is one of my favorite tracks on the album, with some wonderful harmonies and instrumentals. The guitar solo towards the end is particularly fitting, as is the unexpected buildup. “Neptune City” is a lovely song, showing a heavy 50's influence. “Space Fight” is a great little rockabilly tune, with another fun chorus.
“Rocket Roll” is another one of my favorite songs on the album, blending together all the best things about the Phenomenauts into one song. The song is just fantastic, and you’ll have it in your head for days. It’s more rockabilly than punk, but there’s nothing absolutely wrong with that. “Composite Synthesizer” and “Gravity” are both fun tracks, showing two different sides of the Phenomenauts. Where the first track is a bit darker and faster, the second one is very light and catchy, with pretty amusing lyrics: "This world, trying to bring me down, with this G-R-A-V-I-T-Y." The latter track also shows more of the aforementioned 50's influence, complete with repeat piano chords and a rockin’ guitar solo.
“Giant Asteroid” is yet another one of the standout tracks on the album. The vocals and instrumentals are just haunting, showing us yet another side of the Phenomenauts. The sound suits the lyrics very well -- they may be about a giant asteroid, something rather outlandish, but the Phenomenauts play it more serious than joking and it works amazingly well. “Welcome Back” is the Phenomenauts at their most formulaic. The song is upbeat, quick, catchy, and just a blast to listen to, with more 50's influence (the multiple vocal harmonies are particularly effective). The spacey synthesizers (also used to great effect on “Mission” and a few other tracks) fit in perfectly. The song “Space Girl” is something of an encore performance of “Welcome Back”…slowed down, without the layered harmonies, but sharing many of the same lyrics, most obviously "Welcome back, Space Girl." All in all, the song is a fitting finish to the album.
In an era of overproduced pop-punk bands dominating the airwaves, accompanied by gangsta rap, recycled pop, and overzealous hardcore, the Phenomenauts are a welcome breath of fresh air. I love hardcore as much as the next guy, but I can only take so much of some of these bands. If you want to go back to the days when rock was light hearted and fun, do yourself a favor and check these guys out. I was lucky enough to see them open for the Epoxies and Aquabats, and I must say they blew me away. As awesome as this record is, it doesn’t come close to their live shows -- this is a band that NEEDS to be experienced live, by everyone. Between this and their first album, the Phenomenauts are quickly building up a fervid fanbase of aspiring cadets. If you know what’s good for you, check out this album. You won’t be disappointed.