Release Date: Jul 19, 2011
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
If your parents name you Ronald Dante Vannucci and you spend your career literally playing second tambourine to a pink suit-wearing, feather-epauletted, socially awkward Mormon, well then son, you’re gonna need some really big moves when it comes to a solo effort. Luckily, as far as opening swings go, Ronnie’s practically got a hole in one. Firstly, he’s gone and called his downtime lark with guitarist Taylor Milne (an old friend with whom he was previously in a band called Expert On October) a “project”.
The second of the Killers to take a working holiday, Ronnie Vannucci Jr. can't be accused of bandwagon jumping or even borrowing too much from his day job with Big Talk's self-titled debut. Vannucci isn't as much of a force behind the microphone as Brandon Flowers is -- though his tenor is perfectly respectable -- but he doesn't need to be. Instead, he concentrates on songcraft, filling Big Talk with tunes that brim with proper bridges, breakdowns, and turnarounds.
When a member of a popular group ventures off into “solo project land,” it’s quite literally hit or miss, as a lengthy roster of artists testify to the unpredictability of veering from a band’s tested, successful formula (I’m looking at you, Scott Weiland). So when The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. announced his solo side-project Big Talk earlier this year, fans were right to be a little wary of the early-aught superstars’ drummer trying his hand at the solo gig.
Sometimes talent is not a matter of argument. Big Talk is flush with it, mostly in the hands of Ronnie Vannucci, known best for his drumming in the Killers. Vannucci makes the lion’s share of sounds on Big Talk’s debut: singing, drumming and playing keyboards and guitars. He’s crafted an album that sounds slick and competent the whole way through.
No one could blame The Killers for being restless. Their most recent LP, 2008’s Day and Age, peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 and went platinum in 6 countries. In the nearly 3 years since its release, frontman Brandon Flowers released Flamingo, an aptly titled opus that was both a bit of a gamble and, ultimately, for the birds. Now it’s drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr.’s turn, and if nothing else, he affirms nomenclature as The Killers’ greatest solo accomplishment.
As sure as night follows day, the members of successful rock bands make solo albums. And so it is with the Killers. Last year saw singer Brandon Flowers have a bash, and now drummer Ronnie Vannucci has followed suit, though he modestly cloaks his effort under a band identity. Modest, too, is the music, which is an amiable trundle through middle-of-the-road pop-rock, with the shadow of Tom Petty looming as heavily as it did over Noah and the Whale's Last Night on Earth earlier this year.