Reigning Sound released Shattered, their follow-up to 2009’s Love And Curses, back in July. However, Shattered feels more like a late August/early September record, like something I’d rock out to on the first day of school. It’s still got the carefree, mellow nature of summer in its sound, but song titles like “If You Gotta Leave” and “Starting New” reinforce a sense of vague obligation.
It’s worth noting that these titles may also refer to Reigning Sound “starting new.” Though numerous lineup changes can be the kiss of death for most bands, Reigning Sound prove that stigma wrong on Shattered. In fact, Reigning Sound lives up to their name; everything on the record is fully fleshed out, from the instrumentals to the lyrics to lead singer Greg Cartwright’s bluesy croons on “I’m Trying (To Be The Man You Need).” I found some songs like “I’m Trying” so brilliant, I actually Googled them to see if they were old standards (maybe they will be someday!).
Another highlight of Shattered is “North Cackalacky Girl,” in part because it contrasts so much with “I’m Trying.” Reigning Sound didn’t create a homophonic record musically and lyrically. Instead, they run the gamut of emotions—excited, melancholy, nostalgic, etc.—which is kind of beautiful. For instance, “Never Coming Home” follows “North Cackalacky Girl.” The former song is a total departure from latter, but it works because it feels like a mood swing—something very human to have.
The whole record plays out like that, with highs and lows peppered throughout appropriately. By the time a loud song is over, you’re ready for a soft song, and vice versa (listen: the transition between “You Did Wrong” and “Once More”). That’s what makes Shattered so smart; it definitely wouldn’t be as good as it is if Reigning Sound didn’t mix the upbeat songs with the angry or depressing ones. As a result, Reigning Sound have managed to breathe life into Shattered, and that’s what makes itso listenable.