ROOKIE’s modern take on timeless American rock ‘n’ roll pulls from all corners of the sonic map; it’s familiar but fresh, lived-in but blown-out. It’s the ‘70s/’80s pop-rock sheen of recent tour-mates Cheap Trick; 3-minute precision songwriting of Big Star; loose Neil Young Americana; and the hazey, psych-flavored boogie of The Allman Brothers and Thin Lizzy. Though barely able to comfortably fit on most stages, once they’re plugged in and smooshed together, it’s a potent blend of power chords, blistering leads, and performance prowess beyond their years.
That cooperative vibe is most clear in their balanced attack, each of the six members bringing a signature part of the layered sound from song to song. “Hold On Tight” bashes down the door with a deceptively simple AC-to-the-DC riff, but the three-headed guitar monster attack of Dimitri Panoutsos, Christopher Devlin, and Max Loebman takes the standby arena rock formula to wild new places. In “Sunglasses,” Loebman’s lead vocals evince an ethereally sunny pop disposition, which he later strips down to great effect, just his upper register and acoustic guitar, for the stark “Elementary Blues.” Throughout the album’s 12 tracks, the rhythm section of Joe Bordenaro on drums, Kevin Decker on bass, and Justin Bell on keys establishes a groove-meets-power foundation. On several songs, including “I Can’t Have You But I Want You,” Bordenaro sings lead as well, while the rest of the group piles on with a rowdy gang chorus.