A strong concept can go a long way towards the enjoyment of an album. Going beyond drawing meaning from the lines or verses, having a central theme adds more weight to not just the lyrics but the instrumentals too, contextualizing every choice made by an artist. Reptaliens have built a discography on strong concepts with albums that have been focused on complex sci-fi themes, and while everything is brought down in terms of scale here, the storytelling chops remain. There’s more of an urban fantasy vibe on “Multiverse”, with the lyrics signaling an adventure that’s found in the simple act of living.
The lyrics are able to resonate that much more because the songs themselves are stripped down to the bone, allowing the words to feel larger than life. The fuzzy and jangly instrumentals add, if not a bounce, then certainly a spring in the step to the proceedings, with fun solos that convey a sense of motion. Album highlight “Take It” has a really fun opening falsetto that descends as the subject matter gets more serious, the speaker hoping they don’t “go to hell for this.” A lot of the most engaging moments on this album are the inflections lead singer Bambi Browning makes on certain lines, which range from uplifting while soft like the chorus of “Don’t Wait For Me” to the emotive pitch drops on “Go Away”. That layer of fuzz on top of everything works with this vocal style: the highs become these theremin-like cascades of sound while the lows are contrasted even more.
On “Multiverse”, Reptaliens achieve something that a lot of jangly indie rock bands strive for but don’t always nail: resonating with emotional purity with vague, universal statements while also constructing an entire world with just a few short verses. A lot of very core themes are tapped into, like a lot of references to peer pressure and reluctantly going along with what’s happening and in the process losing agency, like the central character who is “sniffing glue” on I Feel Fine. And when combined with fun instrumentals that keep the serious parts weightless this becomes an album that’s instantly enjoyable but leaves a lot to think about later. For me it usually takes a few months for a given year of music to produce a classic album but we aren’t even out of January before Reptaliens came through with one that I’m sure will stick with me for a long time.