Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Dance-Rock
Just when I was ready to declare that indie-rock was fresh out of surprises, along came Athens’ Reptar, a quartet of misfit college drop-outs whose debut EP, 2011’s Oblangle Fizz, Y’all!, was as dementedly unhinged as it was dementedly catchy. To say they did things their own way would be an understatement: Mingling laser-beam synths, Afro-pop hooks, Jock Jams chants and monstrous drumbeats, they made weird fun again, even if the mania only lasted a half-hour. The seeds of Body Faucet, the band’s debut full-length, were sewn from a chance encounter: Producer Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective, Washed Out) originally stumbled upon one of their notoriously party-like live shows and offered his studio skills on the spot.
Athens, Georgia's latest answer to neo-psychedelic electro-pop, Reptar, expand on the amiable melodies and rambunctious energy of last year's debut EP, Oblangle Fizz Y'all, with their first full-length, Body Faucet. The band is as colorful, quirky, and freewheeling as its namesake -- a Godzilla-like character from the '90s Nickelodeon animated series Rugrats -- and on the new record they dig deeper into their worldbeat influences, adding an even sunnier sheen to their already exuberant sonics. But like the show that inspired their name, Reptar aren't just fluffy fun; beneath their shimmering synths and hard-driving beats are stories of identity and relationships, forming connections not only on the dancefloor but in the heart.
Taking their name from a character on the hit 1990s Nickelodeon cartoon Rugrats, party-pop champions Reptar have released what is sure to be their first of many long-players for Vagrant Records. The group’s infectious and always-danceable music has earned them opening spots for Foster the People and other notable acts over the past couple of years, and Body Faucet provides plenty of justification for these honors and others surely to be given in the future. First, though, a caveat: Some listeners might find the baby-talk vocals of lead singer Graham Ulicny hard to tolerate.
Pity the poor band that develops a reputation as an impressive live act. All that word-of-mouth praise that results in your next show in town always being a big deal; that should be a good thing, right? Well, sure–unless the time comes for you to finally deliver your debut album, and what emerges from the studio bears little resemblance to the vibrant, communal enthusiasm your fans have been experiencing at your shows. Such is the case with Body Faucet, the first full-length album from Athens, GA’s Reptar.
Having blown way more money at 4o Watt, Nowhere Bar, and Schoolkids Records than I care to mention, I can say from personal experience that everything you've heard about Athens, Ga., being a wonderland of fluid indie rock collectives, Southern hospitality, and dirt cheap rent is true. But want to know what band's been most consistently holding the Classic City down for the past decade? Not R.E.M., they were coasting on cred even before they went defunct. of Montreal? Please, you're thinking too hard.
Music tends to follow a roughly similar arc through each and every musical trend. Stage 1 begins with a new, bold couple of bands or artists trying something completely different that doesn’t get the widespread critical respect it deserves at the time, though in time they receive sacred cow status and earn that most sought after position, the position of being in that boring argument about whether they were the first to try the new style of music (I’ll use punk as an example so think of the Stooges or the New York Dolls), though increasingly this first step is bypassed as music seems to be in a cyclical stage of everyone exactly copying older musicians but with newer recording equipment (remember how surprised people were when Fleet Foxes appeared on the scene, people were surprised to hear folk and tried to brand it as some sort of new movement, despite all of the debut sounding like the Beach Boys, apart from Meadowlarks which sounded like Neil Young). The second stage is more underground or indie artists contributing their own take on the scene (continuing with the example, this is where CBGB’s comes in and the Modern Lovers and the Ramones release brilliant punk albums) then finally, years too late, stage 3 begins and major labels take notice of the movement and saturate the market with annoyingly prolific, watered down acts that divides the indie community as some feel it is close enough to the earlier, acclaimed acts and some think it’s mainstream shite (the punk example ends here because this is the stage at which the Sex Pistols come in and they’re hardly populist bilge, instead, I’ll fall back on the Fleet Foxes example, this is the point at which Mumford & Sons come in and make their millions).
Pick up a back issue of any indie magazine from 2007 and every band in it will have been making music like this. Reptar are a bit like MGMT. They're a bit like Vampire Weekend. They're a bit Animal Collective, a bit Passion Pit. Remarkably, on Houseboat Babies, they sound as if they've taken vocal ….
Being named after the dinosaur in the 90s Nickelodeon TV show Rugrats, it’s safe to say that this Athens, GA based quartet don’t take themselves too seriously. After seeing a live studio video of ‘Blast Off’ on YouTube late in 2010, which could’ve easily passed off as a proper recording, and hearing that they were being produced by Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter), there were big hopes for Reptar’s further output. Having now heard their debut full-length ‘Body Faucet’, it’s a definite mixed bag of colourful, intricate indie-pop and melancholic slow burners.