Midnight Reruns’ sound is one that is compellingly carefree. The Milwaukee quartet creates songs perfect for soundtracking a roller-coaster ride, a Pete and Pete episode, or anytime you decide to blow off your shitty job and go do something a little more fun. The overall genre is a bit blurry–shades of alternative, punk rock, power pop– but the instrumentation is as straightforward as it gets: guitars, drums and a bass. The Midnight Reruns are an American rock band in 2015 and with their sophomore release, Force of Nurture, the foursome authentically reaffirms that rock ‘n’ roll is still here.
Force of Nurture grows upon a melodic standard impressively begun on the band’s 2013 self-titled debut. Many of the songs on Midnight Reruns were unpolished cuts pairing playful guitar work and punchy drums with lead singer Graham Hunt’s striving vocals. What tied the charmingly rough mixture together was the band’s knack for attractive hooks and memorable arrangements. “King of Pop” and “Summer Smoker” are excellent tunes off the debut— both fun and catchy, but at the same time, unfazed by any sort of expectation to be fun and catchy.
With Force of Nurture, Midnight Reruns are again acting like they’re not trying; engaging guitar-rock melodies seemingly fall off them as they roll out of bed each morning. Album opener “There’s an Animal Upstairs” surges with soaring guitars and hurried drums– a jumpstart anthem to the continuous boredom of everyday routines. Slow-building “Canadian Summer” and twangy, booze-drenched “Richie the Hammer” both distinctively swell into stomping thrill rides through nostalgic yearnings. The abrupt and aggressively charged “Ain’t Gonna Find” flourishes with punk energy and piss-off commentary, while the alternatively drenched “Somewhere In Between” powers behind mesmerizing rifts and a spiraling chorus. It’s all damn good stuff.
As with their debut, many of the lyrics on Force of Nurture are rather loose and relaxed. Often times Hunt tells stripped-down tales of ambitions and regrets, as well as nonchalant daily tasks and interactions. The wonderfully grand title track features much of the latter lyrical approach, with Hunt singing, “And if you’re not disgusted by me, come give me a kiss/ I watch TV for hours then I get up, take a piss/ If the house burns down it’s cuz I didn’t hear the kettle hiss.” It may not be the most poetic of hymns, but Hunt is telling it like it is, and sometimes, life rhymes.
Upon their Force of Nurture release, the Midnight Reruns are still considered a local Milwaukee band. However, in the past year they have made great strides towards outgrowing that designation. This past May, the foursome was handpicked for The Replacements‘ sold-out reunion show in Milwaukee. In turn, Replacements’ bassist Tommy Stinson reached out to the band to produce Force of Nurture. And currently, the Midnight Reruns are touring behind the new album, playing a number of U.S. cities.
As relaxed and carefree as Force of Nurture makes it all sound, Midnight Reruns are a band that is moving forward and moving fast.