To paraphrase ol’ MacBeth, “Is this a rubber dagger I see before me?”
To quote Jim Andreas, Chris Kennedy, James Karnes and William Goethe who collectively make up No Volcano directly, “Uhmmm, yeah.”
In the back of old comic books, just below the X-ray specs and spiders on a string, a rubber dagger was merely a harmless novelty, something to amuse easily amused friends and neighbors. In the hands of No Volcano, a Rubber Dagger an instrument of distraction that will most assuredly slay you in 13 swift and sharp cuts. This fourth musical go-round from Sunnyslope’s most progressive musical spawn might be No Volcano’s most poppy, hurly-burly meisterwork yet!
Its none-too-subtle send-up of the Fab Four subbed by our fab forefathers on a mind-bender may be a sly comment on our country’s current craven tumult. On closer examination, Rubber Dagger offers takes on every slice of life you can expect to endure in 2020 America. Our divisive nation can be dissected along two dueling party lines, “Extrovert” and “Introvert,” both of which the group has conveniently provided vibrant theme songs for. “Extrovert” previews the album with a new video by director Jason Willis, who crafted the band’s previous videos for “Blackout” and “Day in the Sun.” Our social media disconnection is also duly noted on “Logged In” as is the end of civility in our national discourse in “Negative Attention.” Even the abandonment of space exploration, once a source of civic pride, is dashed in songs like “Rocket” and “Lines in Space.”
But all that is bubbling below the surface. This is first and foremost a pop album, possibly the best No Volcano had produced yet. If this were a more enlightened time, No Volcano would be considered a singles band and wear it like a badge of honor. The Beatles allusion on the cover can be vaguely felt musically in the group’s sunshine harmonies and economical song lengths—only two songs crest over three minutes and No Volcano crams a lot of information in what the group likes to call “miniatures.” You may decry the lack of a middle eight in a favorite album track that ends too soon but Rubber Dagger is harmonically programmed so that each song neatly dovetails into the next, even if you randomly scramble the album’s running order (and No Volcano is fully aware that an album’s sequence is fucked with mightily once it is imported into iTunes and for this reason No Volcano issued their second album in alphabetical order!).
Standouts on the album include “Golden,” favored to be the next single and featuring a vocal guest spot by Lonna Kelley and “Miracles,” which features the band rocking out in waltz time, yet another thing the Liverpudlian sons also brought to the masses. In short, get your grimy hands around Rubber Dagger, the most flexible yet sharpest precision tool you’ll ever own!