The Rubens – ‘Hoops’ [Review]
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With Hoops, Australian chart-toppers The Rubens have penned an instant classic breakup album. Infusing a fuzzy rock foundation with plenty of soul and drenching the whole thing in organs galore, each song on Hoops sees The Rubens illuminate a different point on the journey from the beginning to the end of the end and beyond:
Hallelujah: A worldly and cynical “son of a gun” hopes to be saved by a heavily intellectual girl.
The Night Is On My Side: Hoops’ main protagonist struggles to keep his emotional distance while spending the night with his new partner.
Hoops: Things turn dark. An emotional tug-of-war breaks out. Does she want to stay? Does he want her to? Can he walk away?
Switchblade: The conflict continues. Can they fix things? Is it too late?
Bitter End: No. “There’s nothing left”. She unloads the contents of her mind; his churns with confusion. What does he actually want?
Cut Me Loose: Whatever’s left is fucked up, but nobody can move on yet. Harsh shit.
Things About To Change: Finally free, he looks for things to be grateful for and piece together his shattered self-esteem. Relief and joyful anticipation results.
Battles: Unable to fully move on, he makes himself a promise to “Never ever fall in love”. His scars aren’t healing yet.
Hold Me Back: Having turned to drink, he looks to a higher power for guidance.
The Original: Openmindedness and self-acceptance are embraced in the name of progress. Cynicism and a lack of forgiveness still remain though – and which way is this directed? At himself, or at her? We’re left to wonder…
The Fool: There’s a new girl on the scene. He plays “The fool” for her. Love enters the picture – but is it built to last? Is he just playing a part?
As bleak and unresolved as Hoops’ underlying narrative is, The Rubens’ music itself is by turns strident, pensive, joyful and ruminative, amplifying the emotion at hand into a fully immersive and deeply moving experience. You can’t help but connect with Hoops, and you’ll find yourself siding with its protagonist even as he makes (by his own admission) questionable choices.
More than anything, Hoops is a human album, driving home the fact that we are all imperfect, and our best chance of redemption tends to lie not just within ourselves, but amongst others. Redemption may not be fully reached on Hoops, but there are plenty of worthwhile questions raised along the way.
TMMP RATING: 91%
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