Reptar are a 4-piece indieboy band based in Georgia, and something tells me they’d hate me calling them that. To describe Reptar’s music, you would have to take dribbles of the indie-rave revolution of the late ’00s, a chunk of the more recent surf-rock trend and, bizarrely, a dab of Kid A style soundscapes – all glazed over with an indiepop finish. Obviously that sounds terrible: and it would be, but Reptar manage to drop and pick up genres throughout this album to make it work. Each song seems to take a different little proportion of each of these to make some really good tracks.
One prevailing theme throughout the album though, is the idea that the indiepop glaze that I described before doesn’t exist. What worries me about it is that there seems to have been steps taken at each point to make sure it remains “edgy”, which has lead to some odd choices in synthesizers, effects and mostly in vocals. For example at one point in ‘Natural Bridge’ the vocalist decides that growling half of the vocals would be really cool. It frankly isn’t. So I was ready to write this review and say “ditch the microphone and this’ll be a good album” but after a while you realise that the vocalist, who effectively is a drunken lout shouting over the songs, is – where not cringeworthy – an asset that makes the band what they are. It must be said, though, that the attempts to “shake it up” (like the Rammstein-esque growling for example), although few and far between, are contrived enough to give the album just the slightest tinge of tragedy.
The style of music and production in the album is really quite messy, which leaves it seeming quite unrefined. There’s no sense at all of less-is-more; “Doesn’t sound good enough? Fuck it, put another synth in!” is probably a more accurate depiction of the thought processes involved. This isn’t bad, but it certainly changes the album from being something you could love to something that a lot of people will think is, simply, okay. It seems almost rushed, and a little ill-thought through.
To the band’s infinite credit, their name reminded me of my years watching Rugrats, whose Reptar Wagon was voiced by Busta Rhymes – now that is a beat we can all groove to. This album, meanwhile, is good, its worth listening to once – but with an unavoidable self-consciousness about it, which doesn’t sit easily; as if too much attention has been paid to consideration of how it might be received – aiming for edginess, but ending up sounding manufactured. Ultimately an album of awkward house party music, but not much more.