Reptar are the sort of band that would be perfect for the summer months – that is, if we ever get any sun. The four-piece from Athens, Georgia are not concerned with making serious, thought-provoking music. Instead, Reptar are focused on making joyous psych-pop that will have you dancing around the room with gay abandon. And what better way to underline their fun approach to their vibrant tunes than naming themselves after the dinosaur from children’s show Rugrats.
In fact, Reptar – made up of Graham Ulicny (vocals, guitar), William Kennedy (keys), Ryan Engelberger (bass) and Andrew McFarland (Drums) – have been touted in some quarters as this summer’s Vampire Weekend. Their debut album, entitled Body Faucet, arrives at the time when many are searching for a record to brighten up an especially dull British summer. And it follows the group’s critically acclaimed debut EP Oblangle Fizz Y’all, which provided early evidence of what to expect, with the band’s perky, tightly structured pop hooks.
The band’s debut LP certainly doesn’t disappoint in the infectious pop stakes, capturing the same gleeful enthusiasm of their 2011 EP with shimmering guitars and tropical beats complementing the bouncing synths. But Reptar have not foregone all surprises. The album opens with the sprawling, slow synths of latest single Sebastian, which quickly develops into a spirited anthem with stop-start guitars and a crashing beat, as Ulicny sings: “No ones going to mess with me/ Not the people next to me/ Sucking my emotion, you just don’t care.” It’s by no means a lyrical masterclass, but the song ticks all the right boxes to be a summer hit.
Orifice Origami is another example of the quartet’s ability to fashion striking indie pop tunes, with squirming guitars and contrasting booming beat working nicely with Ulicny’s growling vocals. Then there’s the twanging guitars of Natural Bridge, which would have been another album highlight had Ulicny’s vocal not been so preposterous and ridiculously overblown, as he sings: “Daniel left you for another boy/ Indeed he did you like a windup toy.”
It’s followed by the much more restrained – and therefore infinitely more enjoyable – Ghost Bike, with its throbbing beat and beautiful, twinkling guitars suiting a more straightforward vocal delivery from Ulicny. Indeed, when Reptar don’t try too hard to cram as many different intricate sounds into one song as they possibly can, they sound like the band they should be. Unfortunately, the main problem with Reptar’s debut album is just that. There is just too much going on.
That Reptar have built up a reputation for their entertaining live shows is not difficult to comprehend after listening to their debut LP. With restless tunes such as Please Don’t Kill Me and the Afro-pop of the strangely titled Thank You Gliese 370b, Reptar gigs must be a rather sweaty experience. However, Body Faucet would have been greatly improved had producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Washed Out) managed to instil a sense of cohesion throughout the record, rather than allow it to spiral off in countless different directions. Not only that, but at almost an hour long, Body Faucet is just too drawn out.
The potential is undoubtedly there, but Reptar’s debut album suffers badly from the band’s chaotic approach, as well as Ulicny’s occasionally grating vocals. Songs such as the punchy Sweet Sipping Soda and the throbbing Three Shining Suns towards the album’s close suggest what might have been had Body Faucet been more focused. But instead of taking the opportunity to stamp their claim as this summer’s go-to band, Reptar have delivered an album which is unlikely to live long in the memory.