CD Review

R.U.O.K. – “Arctic Warmth”

By Mike Ventarola

Arctic WarmthFormed in 2001 in New York, R.U.O.K. is made up of Jared Apuzzo on drums, Keith Kelly on guitar & vocals, Jeff Labarbera on bass and Mike Murphy on guitar. This is R.U.O.K.’s third self-released album, named Arctic Warmth in case you forgot to read the title of this article, and has a kind of 80s new wave feel fused with melancholy and subdued gothic rock strains. It’s a nice combination, never gets too loud and punky but can get a little choppy when necessary – the heavy bass of Options comes to mind here.

While remaining subdued, R.U.O.K. won’t shock you out of your reverie much, instead being more of a background dark rock style. The title track, Arctic Warmth, is a neat groove with bright guitar melodies and well fused drums and bass. Jared and Jeff work well together. Forward Motions is more laid back, taking an underwater wavy approach. Divisible gets outright faster with a nice moving rhythm.

Vacant Stations has an interesting bass lope and some nice harmonized vocals, one of the best here on Arctic Warmth. This is followed by The Architect which is similar to dozens of other goth-rock tracks I’ve heard, but Blood picks up the pace and gets a bit interesting and grows to about the largest sound on the album, dangerously teetering on the edge of punk without falling too far into it. Kiss or Kill gets faster paced and teeters on this same edge.

Arctic Warmth closes with We Watched You Walk In, a longer track that opens with a kind of whiny vocal and acoustic guitar. It gets a little ambient with a strong drum movement, but tends to fade into the background and become only vaguely part of the surroundings with the exception of some nice breakdowns near 4 minutes in.

Overall, R.U.O.K.’s Arctic Warmth isn’t half bad really, but they don’t hold your interest (or at least mine) for too long. It’s made up well, but doesn’t give me anything overly interesting or with aplomb. It’s comfortable, cozy and familiar. There’s some standout tracks, sure, like Options or Vacant Stations but for the most part I tend to lose the fact that it’s playing even when tracks like Forward Motions grow in stature after a softer start.

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