November 01, 2003

The Rhinos "Year of the Rhino"

In the early 1970s, pop-rock geniuses the Hollies hired Mikael Rickfors, a Swedish fellow, as their lead singer. While the relationship did not last very long, this little bit of trivia is certainly worth mentioning when discussing Year of the Rhinos, the debut from Sweden's latest jingle-jangle pop band, The Rhinos. Though I've never heard any of the Hollies' recordings with Rickfors, I can't help wondering if it sounded anything like The Rhinos.It's certainly worth mentioning, though, because The Rhinos are a wonderfully retro-based band, with some really lovely harmonies, and yes, they are very reminiscent of bands such as the Hollies and the Byrds.

The album kicks off with "Stop the Time," a strong little number which is also the album's weakest moment. From there, it only gets better; the lovely guitar lick of "Dream Diary" picks things up right quick-like, and the pace is never let down, nor is the template ever really altered. The Rhinos are just a bunch of fellows who have a sweet tooth for 60s folk-rock, and they're doing their best to carry the torch. Luckily, with killer numbers like "Greedy Girl" and "Everything To Me," they not only carry the torch, they prove themselves of making a sound that they can call their own. At times, though, they blend a more modern sound, and sound an awful lot like bands we love like The Posies, Jellyfish and on "I Don't Want to Be Alone Tonight," even the Cars! It's a combination of killer harmonies and that lovely guitar jangle that makes Year of the Rhinos fun, and I'd be curious to hear them in a live setting, because I have this feeling that they're a really impressive live act.

While it's true that Year of the Rhinos is not the most original-sounding record, but The Rhinos make such a lovely racket that you really don't mind. After all, I'd rather listen to a band who have really good harmonies and melodies and are somewhat unoriginal than I would to a band that's original yet completely devoid of harmonies and melodies and things that pretty songs are made of. Wouldn't you?

--Joseph Kyle

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