Reubens Accomplice



Reasons to be cheerful, Pts. 819 through 821: The Good Ship Emo, before taking on major label and “Nick At Nite” water, jettisoned a handful of refugees, among them Reuben’s Accomplice; “growing up” means no longer feeling compelled to whine out lyrics cribbed from your big sister’s diary; and brainy, well-crafted pop remains timeless irrespective of year or locale (in this instance, the musical sinkhole known as Phoenix).

The band, in fact, cuts ties right from the git-go on opener “Big Apple, Small Heart,” a noisily anthemic ditty in a Pixies-Sugar vein but with sweeter vocals and without overdoing the soft-loud dynamics thing. Thus hooked, the listener is summarily dunked in a creamy vat of pop nougat: “Lost Sun” sports a compelling sing-songy melody, the kinetic “All Chorus” is a gay, er, merry wedding of XTC and Superchunk, and the electro-fizz of “Act On (Feeling Alone)” channels, swear to god, The Buggles — as leavened by chiming, power-poppish guitars.

RA, formerly a quartet but, for its second full-length, pared down to the duo of Jeff Bufano and Chris Corak, displays audacity in the arrangements, deploying non-rock instruments like strings, xylophone, banjo and pedal steel and bringing in such guest players as Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb, David Bazan (aka Pedro The Lion), Jon Rauhouse (from Neko Case’s band) and album producer Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World). This deliberate stretching-of-wings may prompt a backlash among early supporters, as emo fans are notorious for being unable to let go. And among some reviewers the “damned if you do/don’t” angle has already kicked in; one curmudgeon blasted the “maturity level of [the band’s] intended audiences” then turned around to complain about “insipid” lyrics and “oversimplified” music. But to ears more finely attuned to the so-called entirety of rock’s rich tapestry, this album, which touches upon everything from ’60s pop to vintage college rock to classic alterna-nation fare, makes for one of the year’s most improbably addictive listens.


Reubens Accomplice performs Tuesday, May 25, at St. Andrew’s Hall (431 E. Congress, Detroit. 313-961-MELT).

E-mail Fred Mills at

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.