RX Bandits

Gemini, Her Majesty

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

If Gemini, Her Majesty sounds more like the title of some overlooked '70s prog rock album than the work of a West Coast ska band, it seems that's just what RX Bandits had in mind for their seventh studio project. With their horn section just a memory and the tunes only occasionally suggesting a stark and sinewy variation on reggae (and with no outward ska moves), Gemini, Her Majesty finds RX Bandits cutting ties with many of the rudiments of their third wave ska beginnings, and between the tricky time signatures, the topsy-turvy guitar overdubs, the banks of keyboard textures, and Matt Embree's portentous vocals and verbose lyrics, Gemini, Her Majesty suggests this band has wandered into the verdant fields of progressive rock, and what's more, they like it there. The echo-laden coda of "Will You Be Tomorrow," as the guitars spin and warble through space, even veers into the psychedelic, though most of these tracks are too muscular and firmly controlled to seem properly lysergic. Ultimately, this music sounds like RX Bandits are trying to top the ambitious and weighty approach of ...And the Battle Begun and Mandala, and though song titles like "Penguin Marlin Brando," "Meow! Meow! Space Tiger," and "Ruby Cumulous" give you an idea how well that works from a lyrical perspective, as a band RX Bandits sound tightly focused and the instrumentalists are all on point, especially Embree's expressive guitar work and Steve Choi's abundance of keyboard sounds. For quite some time, it has been obvious that RX Bandits have wanted to be more than just a ska band, and on Gemini, Her Majesty, they appear to have evolved into something else altogether, and though some veteran fans might miss the old sound, there's no denying these guys have the chops to pull off this new and inventive approach.

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