Rooney: Eureka

D

Rooney

Album: Eureka
Label: California Dreaming

It’s almost sweet that Rooney chose to title its latest album Eureka. Geffen dropped the Southern California sunshine-pop outfit sometime after the release of 2007’s Calling The World, a poorly performing sophomore effort that was hobbled by release delays and studio overthinking. So in a way, this self-produced, self-released third LP is an opportunity to discover gold—Rooney’s chance to make Rooney’s dream record. But it appears Rooney’s dream record is a lot like every other one the band has made—melodic, upbeat, mightily derivative—except with less catchiness to grasp onto. The AM-pop of the group’s past, inspired by hit-makers like Beach Boys and ELO, falls flat here, whether it’s being strung over a bubbly backbeat (“The Hunch”) or fuzzed up in an attempt at offhand cool (“Holdin’ On”). It turns out that without all those meddling label executives and obtrusive producers around, Rooney sounds eerily like Hanson doing Strokes covers. It also doesn’t help that frontman Robert Schwartzman can’t string together a single couplet without getting his hands completely gooey with cheese. Lines like “One less margarita, one more trip to the shrink,” from the single “I Can’t Get Enough,” suggest he’s borrowed a page from Weezer’s latter-day lyric book, but without absorbing the disdain that Rivers Cuomo clearly has for his fans. Which means it’s just earnestly bad. Eureka!