The Rentals - Return of the Rentals (Cover Artwork)

The Rentals

Return of the Rentals (1995)


This album…It's a one-time piece that got it right. All the old college indie rock and nerdy elements of '90s emo are compiled here, horn-rimmed glasses included. Fuzzy guitars, electrified violins, humble drums, awesome dual male/female vocals and the amazingness of the Moog. Aww, the Moog. That synthesizer just sets the tone and gives the music a sort of whimsical feel. Fans of Slingshot Dakota and Matt & Kim take notice.

Matt Sharp left Weezer and progressed with his band, the Rentals. Later releases are highly acclaimed. Still, it was Return of the Rentals that pretty much sealed it for most folks. Take some of the quirky moments from the two best Weezer albums, mix in a little bit of new wave, a la the Cars and then combine them to make heartfelt, downsized pop music, and you get this album. Opening track "The Love I'm Searching For" gets things started with hummable melodies provided by female vocalists Cherielynn Westrich and the Haden sisters, Petra and Rachel. "Waiting" is crazy catchy and Sharp allows himself some room to breathe and move around. You can tell this is his baby. "Friends of P." was an unexpected chart hit and made all the rounds on music channels. The accompanying music video was made for under $1,000 bucks and is remembered fondly for its weird sense humor and cheapness.

"Move On" is a more subtle song, relying on nice distortion and the soft drumming of Patrick Wilson (also of Weezer) to carry the weight. The contrasting vocals of Sharp and the girls are quite pleasant to hear. "Please Let That Be you" is the closer to the first half of the album and probably the highlight of all the tracks. What was once a possible Weezer B-side called "Mrs. Young", Sharp took the track, rearranged it to have Rachel sing Rivers Cuomo's parts, and thus created a song which became a staple of the band.

The second half of the album tends to drag in some places, but tracks like "Brilliant Boy," "Naive" and closer "Sweetness and Tenderness" give a good reason to see it to the end. And that's it. The Rentals are still remembered, but often not enough. Some music of the time like the Get Up Kids, All-time Quarterback and Superchunk sort of mixed in well with this, but it was later acts like Ozma, Motion City Soundtrack and the Postal Service that really took notice. It's a nice little slice of music to check out sometime.