In 2006, Zachary Melton started the band Rodeo Ruby Love as a side project. Since then, Melton and friends have worked together to create music that means something to them. While their music may be inaccessible to some, it’s common for listeners to have a soft spot for bands who write music about their personal lives and hometown. Bands like Rancid have done this style of writing in the past and it comes across with an authenticity that can be desirable. Their fourth LP, The Pits, dropped recently. Centering around themes involving life at home, on the road, and Melton’s own imperfections, it provides flourishes of brilliance from a group with clear potential.
The Pits open with a snug introduction that leads in the opening track “Made It Marion”. This introduction sets the tone of the album perfectly and settles listeners for what feels like a tour of someone else’s life. The initial lyrics – “I made it with you as long as I could” – set the scene for a good chunk of the song. The track addresses feelings of being there for someone, and that person not showing appreciation in return. The instrumentals on “Made It Marion” bounce between warm introductory feelings to a driving rock style. The last verse climaxes with lyrics that address the concept of apathy and growing old. This whole track draws the image of an old married man looking at his life now, and how it has progressed with time. This imagery plays out perfectly with how the album unfolds.
The rest of The Pits resembles a man telling the story of his life, while we have nowhere to go. While that notion succeeds in some aspects, the album will sink or swim depending on the authenticity of the songwriting. In tracks like “Where You Find it and Worst Case Scenario”, the band comes across as lazy and uninspired. Take, for example, the track “Where You Find It”. The lyrical flow is not focused and the constant reputation of the lyrics “there’s nothing wrong with us, we don’t need fixing up. I think it’s poisonous to seek and find so much,” could have been executed better. There are just some songs on the album that do little to nothing to impress and engage. Other efforts, like “Sand Pike”, “Bottom of the Barrel”, and “Wires Cuckoo”, redeem the album from the few tracks that fall flat. “Wires Cuckoo” is the shortest song on the album, but it packs the most punch. It rips into this fast punk-rock jam that has Melton almost shouting “I made a mess. I made a promise I would never make again. And guess who crossed me off that list with a good ol’ fashioned ‘let’s just be friends?’” The whole song is in-your-face raw emotion with blistering instrumentals. “Wires Cuckoo” and the rest of the album shine with first-rate song writing and genuine passion that bleeds through in the music.
The Pits concludes with “The Problem”, which initially appears to be a slow-burning jam to close out the album. After the opening dreary verse, the bands kicks the tires and lights the fire, thundering into the best jam found on The Pits. The chorus of the song highlights the whole underlying theme of the album: “I’m just like you. I’m hones with where I come from”. The track ends the LP similar to how it started: with a warm fuzzy feeling. Yet instead of the bittersweet tone throughout “Made It Marion”, “The Problem” makes listeners feel as if they have just experienced a journey through someone else’s life. The whole LP ends with this skyrocketing sensation of hope, sounding truly blessed to be alive. At the end of the LP, Rodeo Ruby Love impressed with their songwriting and the singer’s openness in his own life. While some of the tracks were lazy and flat, there are plenty of tracks on here that make up for it.