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Album Review: The Rocket Summer - Life Will Write the Words

Posted by Karen Marchuska on 06/19 at 12:03 PM

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Bryce Avary, otherwise known as The Rocket Summer, has been making waves in the pop-punk music scene since the early 2000s. But after parting from his major label, Island Def Jam, in 2009 many fans were uncertain what turn Avary’s music would take next. His latest release, Life Will Write the Words, he has put this uncertainty to rest as it solidifies his musical prowess. Every one of the 46 minutes on this record was written and performed by Avary himself, where he plays all the instruments - from guitars to synthesizers to an organ to trashcans, and to even a typewriter. With the release of this empowering self-produced album, nobody should be uncertain about what The Rocket Summer is capable of. The whole album is a testament to his growth as a musician since his breakout piano pop music. He produces without the help of an auto-tuner, and uses full takes on drums and guitar, as opposed to cutting and pasting the best sounding pieces from each take, giving a live feel to the album.

When Avary first broke into the pop-punk scene in Dallas, he was known for his energetic piano playing and raw vocals, and he continues these trademarks in this album. The album opens with the booming, “Run and Don’t Stop.” The guitar quickly moves you through the song as Avary’s vocals encourage, “do it, run to it, let them sit back and watch you.” It’s a nice song to open the album with, as it gives devout The Rocket Summer fans that familiar sound they want to hear.

The next tracks touch on the Christian spiritual themes Avary is known for, similar to ones on his previous album Of Men and AngelsThough this release doesn’t spell it out as plainly as Of Men and Angels did, Avary doesn’t shy away from the perception that the Rocket Summer is a Christian artist, as well as a pop-punk artist. “Revival” and “The Rescuing Type” promote determination, personal growth and selflessness embedded in soaring guitar rifts and crashing percussion. “Revival” contains the chorus of a soft “oh, oh, oh, oh” leading up to the cry of “we’re gonna make it.”  There is also “Just For a Moment Forget Who You Are” where Avary encourages listeners to remember that they were “made in an image of greatness.”

“Underrated” and “200,000” are driven by the wonderfully choppy piano chords and powerful lyricism. “200,000” is one of the standout tracks as he sings passionately to his high school sweetheart, now wife: “yes I made those morning coffee drinks at four AM for a ring, but I loved you that much.”

There are a few songs that don’t quite hit the mark.  In “Old Love,” Avery reminisces about his grandparents’ great relationships, but it is a little too poppy and could have benefited from stronger vocals.  And,  “Just for a Moment Forget Who You Are” sounds and feels only like filler and isn’t very memorable.  But these are only minor hiccups in an otherwise strong album.

After a dynamic trio of songs - “Sodiers,” “The Rescuing Type,” and ” Scrapbook” - that include acoustic guitar and a piano ballad, Avery concludes the album on “Ashes Made of Spades.” This is the perfect song to end the album with, and the excellent guitar playing also helps it to be one of the best tracks. The album overall is very reflective, so having the last song be about putting the past behind you is a great way to tie it all together. The song ends with the lines: “Now here I stand with two dry feet, and there my past dies in the water. Oh My Light. All My Life.”

Overall, this album is a great follow-up to Of Men and Angels as it continues with his themes of spirituality without being repetitive. He shows more of his guitar prowess in this album, as opposed to earlier records where he seems to focus on piano. This is an impressive offering for Avary’s first self-produced album and should please die-hard The Rocket Summer listeners as well as attract some new ones. You can listen to the entire album for free here or purchase it on iTunes and Amazon.com.

{name} Author: Karen Marchuska
Bio: Karen Marchuska is a junior majoring in Public Relations and minoring in English and Marketing at Penn State. She enjoys reading, running, chocolate milk and listening to any music she can get pumping though her headphones. Although she listens to a wide range of artists, some of her favorites are: Something Corporate, Jack's Mannequin, All Time Low, Yellowcard, The Ready Set, Drake, The Rocket Summer, Demi Lovato, Keith Urban, and The Summer Set.

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