This five-track EP is the latest release from Melbourne-based, Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland, New Zealand) multi-instrumentalist and songwriter/producer, Reuben Hudson. Featuring David Harris on drums (Princess Chelsea), mixed by Peter Ruddell (Wax Chattels, Sulfate) and mastered by James Goldsmith (Mermaidens), everything else was played and performed by Reuben himself. The result is a pop release which is full of catchy choruses and multiple styles which rushes past very quickly indeed. I think one of the reasons for that is while four of the songs are about three minutes long, opener Good People, Bad People is only 1:47 and rather catches the listener off guard. This is also a song which features a young female vocal (at least I think it is, unless Reuben has a very unusual falsetto), as do some of the others, and she cuts through what is going on underneath.
This opener is by far the heaviest, yet also contains some of the quietest moments on the record, even if the lyrics are designed to create a reaction. He has a great touch on guitar, allowing himself to pick in some places, provide indie-style riffs in others, or just belt it out when he feels the need. He also uses some interesting keyboard sounds, including one which sounds just like a stylophone – I presume it is a patch, but I must wonder if he did actually use one of those on the EP. This includes the single Gasman, an over-the-top vibrant number which seems quite simple but actually has a very dense arrangement with a great deal going on. The EP covers an array of themes, such as feeling (and celebrating) that you don’t belong in the society around you, juxtaposed with surrendering your identity in order to fit in. Reuben says, “In my case, I didn’t relate to New Zealand’s macho, Fonterra drinking, ‘harden up’ Rugby culture that takes its toll on our mental health. However, as I wrote much of this music from the isolated position of awaiting a kidney transplant, I managed to keep a sense of what it was that made me different.”
Vocally he fits mostly in the indie style, but there are some at the beginning of There’s No One Like Me which make me think he has been paying attention to his Dylan and Cohen, but he is soon back with his stylophone and a more upbeat mode. Solid pop with loads of other influences, this is an interesting journey.