The Rubens: The Rubens

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The Rubens
The Rubens
(Warner Bros.)
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

They look like a fresh faced boy band. But this band of brothers, older brother and frontman Sam Margin on vocals and guitar, Zaac on lead guitar and Elliott on keys, along with childhood friend Scott Baldwin on drums, rock hard enough to have been tapped by Bruce Springsteen to open last year’s Australian leg of his worldwide tour and to be the supporting act when Springsteen returned for an encore tour this past February. They’ve also opened for the Black Keys, to whom they’re often compared.

The band has said they’re more like the Kings of Leon, but “My Gun,” the second single from their eponymous debut on Warner Brothers, sounds more like the Wallflowers. It’s a dramatic thumper concerning getting shot with your own gun by your beloved. Even though she left you bleeding, you forgive her: (“I want to grow old/ I don’t want to be alone,” Sam explains) and she takes you back, stitches you up, smiling ’cause she won. But one day, he promises, “I’ll get back my gun.”

Together only two years, the band first got noticed for last year’s first single from the album, “Lay it Down.” Bloozy blue eyed soul with a ’60s feel, the single climbed halfway up the hot 100 chart in their native Australia.

“Elvis” is a bit confusing. Not only does it not sound anything like the King, there’s nothing in the song about him. Its more like a bublegummy Beatles knockoff about aging lovers. “I want to grow old with you,” Sam proclaims in the first verse, but by the third he’s telling his life mate “don’t hold your breath” when people say they’ll marry one day… “let’s stay young.”

“I’ll Surely Die” has an Erico Morricone spaghetti western tone, a tied down victim/convict/musician either attempting to flee from an isolated, escape-proof jail or his hometown because some other dude made it out and this one’s gonna get out too or die trying.

That philosophy has worked so far for the band through their two lead singles, but if they want to make good their escape and retain their musical freedom, they should concentrate more on the rockin’ blues stuff and leave the adolescent pop to the Beibers and Britneys.