Album Review: Readymade Breakup, ‘Live With It’

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If you were lucky enough to have been witness to NJ’s vibrant, underground music scene in the early-to-mid-aughts, you’ll recall that Readymade Breakup always stood out from the pack. Led by the preternaturally talented singer/guitarist/pianist Paul Rosevear, with a penchant for power-pop’s best qualities–melodic mastery and muscular hooks–the band’s vision crystalized with their fantastic 2010 self-titled LP which captured the band at its radio-ready peak, packed with would-be hits, recorded in full-spectrum hi-fidelity by producer/engineer Steve Evetts.

In the years since then, the band quietly took themselves off of active duty, as everyone in the band paired off, got married, and became parents. Most recently, drummer Spicy O’Neil relocated his family to Arizona. But, in a bit of an ironic twist, Readymade Breakup refused to breakup. Smart move.

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When Spicy O’Neil planned a visit back to the Garden State, Rosevear concocted an ambitious plan for the band to record a brand new EP over the course of a single day in the studio.

And they pulled it off.

The result is Live With It, the first new music from the band in years, clocking in at six songs over roughly 10 minutes.

Fans of the band will immediately recognize Gay Elvis’ spry, commanding bass lines and Spicy’s driving, deep-pocket rhythms from the very first measure of lead track “Kiss My Ring.” But they’ll also find an altogether different singer in Rosevear.  The songsmith has been in a steady state of growth as a solo artist, honing a plaintive and direct approach, eschewing complex production for honest, soulful impact. Last year’s Pearl was a damn-near-perfect LP, featuring intimate songs about life and living it, rooted in folk and early pop, spotlighting his relaxed and dynamic vocal style. Placing himself back into context of Readymade Breakup, however, Rosevear gets loud and loose, abandoning the meticulous structures and arrangements of old and channeling a positively punk rock aesthetic, as he leads the boys through a set of six raucous rave-ups and killer kiss-offs that will leave you wanting more.

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While the sound of the recordings lack the punch of previous efforts, the occasionally low-fi quality fits the spirit of the material. Even lyrically, Rosevear is revved up and raw. He declares himself the king in “Kiss My Ring,” and chases tail accordingly in “Adolescent Fantasy.” He tells us he’s deranged in “Low-Life Creep,” but then vehemently (and repeatedly) clarifies his self-accepting stance in “I Love Myself,” before a offering sobering admission that everything is crumbling in “Everything.” It’s a wild ride, alternately recalling the work of Cheap Trick, Social Distortion, and Nirvana. Even within its meager running-time, Readymade Breakup manages to pack in plenty of hooks and fuzzy earworms that will compel you to sing along with your fist in the air.

For fans of the band, it might seem difficult to compare Live With It to their previous work, as it feels and sounds like a brand new endeavor. It’s honest, unadorned, and unashamed, with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Basically, it’s rock ‘n’ roll as hell. And it’s clearly the work of gifted veterans. On closing track “Whisky and Jellybeans,” Rosevear paints a disturbing picture of a wild man who loses all his teeth but refuses to lose his cool. Likewise, Readymade Breakup may have lost some proverbial teeth along the way, but they clearly haven’t lost their cool. In fact, they may have more bite than ever before.