A Rocket to the Moon

Wild & Free

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Emo-rock ensemble A Rocket to the Moon expand upon the anthemic sound of their 2009 debut, On Your Side, with 2013's country-influenced Wild & Free. While A Rocket to the Moon certainly flirted with an acoustic country vibe in the past, they primarily played a kind of electric guitar-driven pop that combined the hooky quality of '70s-'80s power pop with the yearning emotionality typical of their Fueled by Ramen labelmates like Paramore and Fun. While that big-chorus craftsmanship is still fully intact on Wild & Free, it's balanced out with a twangy, front-porch sweetness centered around singer/songwriter Nick Santino's bright, pleasant croon, making things a bit more Keith Urban than Rick Springfield. Certainly, one wouldn't call this new approach particularly innovative. Admittedly, cuts like "First Kiss" and "Wherever You Go," with their pristinely produced mix of electric and acoustic instruments and hummable, romantic lyrics, certainly wouldn't sound out of place on contemporary country radio. That said, the band's mix of punk-pop and modern country does stand out. Tracks like the lilting and romantic "If I'm Gonna Fall in Love" and "Going Out" are expressive, infectious songs that stick in your head. Ultimately, A Rocket to the Moon's new country sound on Wild & Free is an immediately likable one, and in the band's own low-key way, shows a fresh new approach for the band's musical direction.

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