The Rentals

Seven More Minutes

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Somewhere between the surprise success of The Return of the Rentals and the draining tour for Weezer's second album, Pinkerton, the Rentals became more than a side project for Matt Sharp. He wound up leaving Weezer and devoting himself to the Rentals, setting out to record their second record in London in late 1996. With the exception of Kevin March, who replaces Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson, the supporting band remains the same on Seven More Minutes as it does on the debut, but there's a major difference here. Where The Return of the Rentals was a kind of kitschy new wave tribute, Seven More Minutes is designed to prove that this is a real band, capable of all kinds of styles and sounds. To that effect, Sharp lined up an impressive list of guest artists to flesh out the sound even more. Not a bad idea in theory, but there's a problem that a record boasting cameos from Damon Albarn, Donna Matthews, Miki Berenyi, and Tim Wheeler feels something like a Brit-pop hangover. To Sharp's credit, he throws out enough different styles to keep such impressions from solidifying, but that has a countereffect of making the record sound too diffuse, especially on initial plays. With repeated spins, several songs -- the dynamic opener "Getting By," the exuberant "Barcelona," the jangling "She Says It's Alright" -- catch hold, but the whole project never really gels. It may have been done as a lark, but The Return of the Rentals had a breezy sense of fun that gave it coherence. Seven More Minutes proves that the Rentals are more than just a side project, but it finds them searching for a distinctive identity when, ironically, they had one when they were just a side project.

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