With their debut, Garbles, it’s quite obvious that Rock Bass do power pop. However, the trouble with a lot of power pop is that so much of it can sound really quite generic. Of course, historically the keystone act was Big Star, but there have been other stand outs as well. Cheap Trick, Teenage Fanclub, Crowded House and Weezer have all enjoyed success with subtle (and not so subtle!) variations on the power pop template. The trouble is, for every truly great power pop act, there are dozens of others that sound just too damn similar to differentiate them from each other.
So do Rock Bass do enough to truly stand out? Their debut, Garbles, is unmistakably power pop, but there’s enough charm, playfulness and character for Rock Bass to mark them out from the crowd. Simply put, if you’re partial to a portion of power pop, then Garbles is well worth checking out, because there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find much to admire. The songs are well written and don’t fall victim to the same naivety that so many power pop debuts fall foul of. The trio line up works particularly well, as the amount of musical clutter is minimised and the whole thing sounds economic and avoids being overwrought.
Perhaps something that Rock Bass didn’t intend was the impression that they still have plenty of room to grow and expand creatively. This is crucial for any act at the beginning of their career, however, given the tendency for record labels to want new acts to hit the ground running in terms of success, instead of the much more natural organic growth of a career, you just don’t hear so much of it these days. Garbles pulls of the neat trick of not only being a pleasing listen, but also giving the hint that Rock Bass are also capable of so much more as well. It promises potential, and that’s a very rare thing these days.