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Reuben – Racecar is Racecar Backwards – Tenth Anniversary Edition | Album Review

We checked out the extended reissue of Reuben’s debut album – find out how it holds up here.

Source: Album Cover

Anyone interested in checking out this reissue probably knows the back story already, but just incase, this is the tenth anniversary edition of Racecar is Racecar Backwards, the first of three albums from English cult favourites Reuben. The band went on indefinite hiatus in 2008, and since then frontman Jamie Lenman has released solo material, while the other two went on to form Freeze the Atlantic. This release comprises the original album, along with an extra disc of live performances and demo versions. The iconic red skeletons from the album cover appear here in black and white as an early draft drawing, too.

The album itself is a bit of a mixed bag when listened to with fresh ears. Freddy Keruger’, the bands most successful single, sounds very much of the time it was produced – the brief screams placing it firmly in the era of mid-2000’s post-hardcore. Other tracks, however, such as Horror Show, still sound fresh, as good as any alternative rock that’s come out since. Some of the interesting timing and jagged guitar riffs hint at the direction Lenman would head in with his diverse, match-rock tinged solo material.

As for the second disc, well, that’s a mixed bag too. The live performances are a selection of radio appearances, well performed but lacking the energy, edge and crowd response of a real live show. Some of the demos, such as Freddy Kreuger (Stakeout Demo), are interesting for seeing familiar songs in a new light, while others, (we’re looking at you, Fuzz’s Birthday Song) are real throwaway moments. The demo of Dusk is without the atmospheric piano ending, making it a minute shorter than the album version, showing an obviously more rough version of the track. Also of note is a demo of Banner Held High, an outtake that would later appear on compilation album We Should Have Gone To University’ – here in a more energetic and aggressive form.

The narrative of such reissues is usually the same, a gift to existing fans rather than an attempt at winning any new ones, and that is especially true with this. Some albums are best left in the past, bound by the time and context of their original release. Those who liked Racecar is Racecar Backwards at the time are sure to get a kick out of it, while anyone else might find a few things to like, and look at the rest wondering what all the fuss was about.

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