[Album Review] Reuben and the Dark- Funeral Sky
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by Tiana Feng


Release Date: May 27th, 2014
Label: Arts & Crafts

This year, Reuben and the Dark captivated the blogosphere before they even had an album out with their triumphant single “Rolling Stone”. Now they have a debut record out called Funeral Sky.

Stylistically, the band falls in the over-saturated genre of reverb-filled folk tunes dominated by the likes of Fleet Foxes, Other Lives and Mumford and Sons. However, in Funeral Sky they prove they have not set out to imitate those bands but to create their own impeccable harmonies and melodies. “Bow and Arrow” begins with atmospheric elements before hooking you in with the line, “we go over the mountain and under the stars”.  There’s a delicate balance between everything, Reuben Bullock’s lovely vocals, the guitars, and percussion, played by Reuben’s brother Distance Bullock. This can be some credit to the people producing the album which includes Chris Hayden who’s worked with the incredible Florence and the Machine.

Reuben has one of those voices that are perfect for radio (“The River, “Rolling Stone” , “Can’t See the Light”). Unjarring, deep, comforting. Occasionally, other vocals are added for a chorus-like effect (“Devil’s Time”). Many of the songs on Funeral Sky are heavy-hitters, anthemic, and at any time could be picked up as singles. “Rolling Stone”, which is one of the actual singles, is rather poetic and depressing, “I don’t wanna die in the middle of a city, so they wrote it on my headstone,” a line that could be missed from the overly repetitive chorus.

In fact there are quite a few heartbreakers in the album including the following horn-decorated “Shoulderblade” and the piano ballad “Standing Still”. The latter brings to mind the powerful Moonface ballads of Julia with Blue Jeans On.  Following this is the gospel-like “Marionette” that begins as a call and response with a choir. However, it takes a twist with thundering drums as Reuben sings “I saw the sign. It was hung from the sky, right here above the water, but they didn’t seem to mind”. Despite them sounding radio friendly, the tunes don’t really follow any constant form. Story purposefully overtakes form. The title track of the album is actually a mysterious interlude with no lyrics. The mood resembles what a person might feel as they ascend into the afterlife. Slight confusion but led by a light (the piano sparkles), until they are at peace. The song sort of resolves into the closer “Black Water”, a reflective funeral song. With Funeral Sky, Reuben and the Dark managed to create a radio friendly pop tune that also tugs on our heart strings.