A Rocket to the Moon

On Your Side

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On Your Side Review

by Tim Sendra

Seeing Fueled by Ramen on the spine of a CD gives you an idea of what the music inside sounds like. You can expect sunny, anthemic emo pop with lots of catchy hooks and emotional vocals, almost always sung by young guys with girl troubles. A Rocket to the Moon hews to the FBR template very closely on their debut record, 2009's On Your Side. The choruses are easy to sing with, the guitars are loud but never loose (with lots of acoustic strumming layered in), the vocals are angst-fueled but never whiny or gruff, and the overall sound is punchy while still retaining a softness that will draw in people who like the emo-to-pop ratio skewed to the latter half of the equation. Nick Santino's songs are half "the girl done me wrong" laments, half "I miss the girl so much" weepers, sung with convincing passion and vulnerability. Most of them sound tailor-made for radio, too. It's easy to imagine "Annabelle" blasting from the open summer windows of a car filled with teenagers, "Like We Used To" playing softly in a broken-hearted lover's bedroom late at night, or "Baby Blues Eyes" soundtracking a teary-eyed late-night drive. It's also easy to imagine a few of the songs being pop hits in the 1970s, if stripped of their modern sound. "Where Did You Go?" isn't too far from a Rick Springfield track; the blend of new wavey snap and mainstream sap is almost perfect. The record is only hampered by the sometimes clich├ęd lyrics, but there aren't enough offenders to make things a slog to get through. In fact, On Your Side goes down very smoothly and is generic in a good way, in that it satisfies all the requirements of a successful emo pop album.

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