Interest in the LP format may have waned in recent years. If anyone can make a case for them in 2022, it is the Sydney singer-songwriter Robbie Maroon, with his riotously eclectic blend of funk, pop, RnB and rock in his third album, Reckoning.
The opening single, The Fighter, doesn’t set the tone for the album that throws everything from soulful ballads to rock anthems to groove-led jams. Instead, it throws you head-first into the captivating energy and expressive soul that Reckoning was created with. The consistently evolving nature of the release never allows you to get complacent with the unpredictable transitions in tone, style and lyrical influence. Yet, each visceral piece of the puzzle binds together seamlessly.
After the early Faith No More meets Go West opener, the album careers into funkier and playfully synthy territory with Track 2, Cyberlovestory, which will resonate with everyone who had the displeasure of experiencing the surrealism of dating during the lockdowns. Crafting the track in the form of an 80s synthwave love song was cunningly clever. I think the extent of the ridiculousness of the past few years finally just hit me with its full force.
After two infectiously protestive tracks, in track 3, Maria, Maroon delivers the indie funk-pop ballad, which celebrates the sanctuary that only certain people can open the door to. The upraising vocal layering, Men at Work-reminiscent horn stabs, and the sticky sweet melodious essence is enough to make you pick up your phone and tell your favourite person you love them.
Track 4, Rewind, is the perennial soul-pop earworm of the album that gives you a view into just how much command the Prince-inspired artist has over funk-bridled rhythm. From rap bars to vocal lines that would give Seal’s soul a run for its impassioned currency, the vocals stick to your synapses like superglue.
Track 5, My Love, allows Maroon to wear his James Brown and George Michael influences on his sleeve through the slick-with-salacious-funk-disco-grooves. The hand claps against the Nile Rodgers-Esque chops bolster the nostalgic euphoria, while the smooth vocals and equally as smooth lyrics scribe Maroon’s unrelentingly sonic signature.
With track 6, Falling out of Love, Maroon proves that love goes as quickly as it comes in quick to burn love affairs before he grooves into the striking funk aesthetics of Stand. Track 7 gives plenty of limelight to the female backing vocals that raise the energy throughout the album with their shimmering old-school soul.
Track 8, I Won’t Be Doing That, leaves a similar question springing to mind as Meatloaf’s I Won’t Do That. The intriguing ambiguity in the rock-licked track grips onto grooves reminiscent of Hall & Oats, and there is plenty of room for the unpretentiously virtuoso solos. Strangely, they amplify the sense morality mystery while you wait for more clues.
In Track 9, Maroon is out of his funk in the harbingering 80s rock title single, which grieves the normalcy that forgot to get a return ticket after the pandemic. I can quite honestly say that listening to The Reckoning was one of the most vindicating and affirming aural experiences I’ve indulged in this year. While the mainstream media keeps trying to sell us fear and hate, the masses find new brands of tribalism, and everyone secretly loses their sanity in the privacy of their bedrooms; it is impossible to find a voice of reason. Thank god one exists on my playlists now.
I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the closing single, Take a Bow before, but my tear ducts still opened the floodgates to the ode to Prince. Simultaneously a celebration of his legacy and an illustration of the impact that inspirational people have on us, the subtle and quiescently yearning single is a tribute like no other. Hell, it’s a ballad like no other.
Review by Amelia Vandergast