While so many artists are playing the part of vintage revivalists these days, Michael Rault is cutting the fat to make sure it’s worth hearing for more than just aesthetics. As Rault wear’s every one of his influences on his sleeve, the record pops with so much fresh and memorable writing you may forget it’s a new record. Rault’s endless ambition and a mastery of sonic colouring give this album all the right pieces to sound classic while never feeling too derivative.
There’s already a mounting tension in the guitars as Rault opens things on the blistering rock of “I’ll Be There,” and he brings his own spin on those groovy but roaring classic rock sounds. Though it’s easy to expect Rault to lean into the familiar tones of his rock inspiration, he keeps things more dynamic and popping. Things get sparser and more glistening on “New Day Tonight” as Rault plays it cool and surrounds himself in powerful effects. As the song moves on, the riffs tie the song together like magic while new hooks cut in to make every moment feel new and exciting.
Though “Sleep With Me” plays on similar bases as the opening tracks on the record, Rault cranks up the distortion in fun and strangely pointed ways. Rault also makes really powerful moments out of his string section here and uses them and a nice bit of synth to bring weight to every chorus. A spritely bounce and flourish-heavy bit of guitar-playing leads “Oh, Clever Boy” as Rault seems too carefree to be dragged down. As uppity as the song is, there’s so many small touches in the drum fills and sprinkles of strings that really make the song pop.
You’d have to be ignorant of Led Zeppelin to not hear where Rault is coming on “Sitting Still” but his ability to modernize many of their conventions in his own voice is what makes him so special. As the beat kicks in however, Rault starts tying in so many other vintage rock concepts that it’s more fun to just sink into his grooves than try to dissect it all. The background arrangements get more love on “Dream Song” while Rault’s guitars start to play a more guiding role. While his sunny energy gives the song a nice aesthetic place, it’s really the song’s big melodic sweeps that define it.
Suave percussion and sultry riffs are the leading motif on “Pyramid Scheme” as Rault almost suggests a misleadingly attractive tone to underscore his point. The track’s unusual rhythms play against its calming sounds to create a sense of movement one wouldn’t quite expect for its harmonies. A bit of Beatles and Kinks majesty rocks “Out Of The Light” while Rault is riding his own unusually psychedelic high. As he brings a little childish glee into every single riff and chord by his glowing instrumentation, the track might just make you crack a smile.
As bright and cheery as so many of the Beach Boys-like moments are on “Sleeping & Smiling” there’s a real darkness that gives the song its powerful depth. Rault’s mysterious dreamy writing really sells the whole song and makes every turn back and forth worth paying attention to. With a proper sense of finality “When The Sun Shines” roars out with a some of the biggest hooks of the record and a sombre vocal delivery. As Rault brings an epic scope to his outro guitar ballad, the song builds even more harmonies on every side and lets his rhythm section run wild to make a memorable closer for the record.
Words by Owen Maxwell