Reubens Accomplice - The Bull, The Balloon, and The Family (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Reubens Accomplice

The Bull, The Balloon, and The Family (2004)

Western Tread

A few years ago, Reubens Accomplice was poised to break. With their debut record I Blame The Scenery out on Better Looking, an infectious sound reminiscent of The Promise Ring had they grown up in the Southwest, and an opening slot on Jimmy Eat World's first tour in support of Bleed American, Reubens Accomplice's puzzle pieces were all connecting.

Then half the damn band quit, leaving frontmen Jeff Bufano and Chris Corak to try and rebuild. Whoops.

It's no surprise then, that on their new album The Bull, The Balloon, and The Family, the songwriting has taken a bit of an edgier stance. Opening track "Big Apple, Small Heart" is a kindred spirit to some of the rockier stuff off Pedro The Lion's Control [and actually features guest vocals from Pedro himself, David Bazan]. This frustration creeps up in a few other tracks when various f-bombs and the like are dropped, although it never seems too out of place.

But aside from the guitar crunch of the first song, the rest of the album falls back into more familiar territory that the band had already mined on I Blame The Scenery. From the banjo accentuating "Underneath The Golden Grain" to the steel guitar that shows up on about half the album, the vibe is that of a fun, laid-back stroll through the streets of Arizona. Bufano's sweet, almost falsetto tenor voice sounds so, so good behind the crunchy pop of "All Chorus," a five-minute mini-epic that ends more like a Flaming Lips song than anything else.

Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins is responsible for the production aspect of the disc, and does a remarkably admirable job in making the album sound lush and full, never letting any of the extra instrumentation get buried in the back. The whole album just has a nice lustre to it, but it most certainly is not too polished. Some of that can also be attributed to handyman extrordinaire Chris Fudurich, responsible for the mixing of the disc. He always seems to know just the right knobs to tweak.

Adkins also contributes some vocals on the disc, turning a few of the songs [most notably "This Town" and the album's wonderful hidden track] into Jimmy Eat World-minis. It's just enough variation to keep the album fresh.

Reubens Accomplice has taken their formula - again, that being the southwestern version of the Promise Ring - and has delved deeper into their collective psyche, ending up with an overall deeper album in both words and music. Absolutely enjoyable.

Underneath The Golden Grain
All Chorus
It Is What It Is
Act On (Feeling Alone)