There have been some dark days for Rubblebucket. Kalmia Traver has survived first-stage clear cell ovarian cancer, while Alex Toth battled alcoholism. Then, of course there was also their divorce. Yet Sun Machine is a tribute to the positivity and respect Traver and Toth have for themselves and each other even after the break up.
There is a lasting connection between the two that comes through, even though things aren’t always sweetness and light. The album documents the uncoupling while expressing their wonder at the world around them. On Fruity Traver lets it be known, “I promised that we’d ride the gold blanket to heaven, but I’m sorry, Fruity, I must find the earth again.”
Listening to What Life Is one never gets the feeling that there is so much pain going on. Still the lyrics make it clear that there’s more to the situation than meets the eye, “Wish there was a space to go, nobody has to know. Windows are nice that way, I will not jump today.” While the breakup may be painful, there is still hope for better days.
Musically, Sun Machine is a wild, horn-driven carnival ride, speeding up and slowing down without giving you a chance to catch your breath. Between Toth’s trumpet and Traver’s sax, Rubblebucket’s pallet offers and endless variety of possibilities. Formless and New initially rides a wave of exceedingly heavy drumming countered by light keyboards and horns.
The interplay of sax and trumpet on Inner Cry hearkens back to another era with a riff right out of the ‘70s, yet remains surprisingly up to date. This is a band that plays to their strengths despite the pain of their uncoupling. They do it to a beat of indie rock while incorporating a brand of upbeat dance music and arrangements that cover the waterfront.
Dancing to the destruction of their relationship, Kalmia and Alex, come out on the other side stronger and more committed to the musical possibilities of their relationship. Even in the pain of the broken heart there is still hope, so keep dancing!
Words by: Bob Fish