We may never get an exact answer to the timeless question, “Is rock and roll dead?” but that doesn’t mean that the genre is unimportant or irrelevant. There is always going to be a place in music for rock and roll, no matter if it is alive, dead, or somewhere in between. Regardless of where it stands, Nashville’s Bluphoria are here to redefine it, infusing their artistry and expertise into the genre. On the band’s self-titled debut album, Bluphoria modify the standards of rock and roll, delivering a collection of solid tracks that breathe old and new life to the style.
There is much push-and-pull on the album, most of this energy coming from the tracks that focus on the joys and heartbreak of letting people in or letting them go. We have the feisty “Let You Go,” which explores the concept of release. The track moves with a bit of a hustle, its carefree vibe taking us to open places, especially when we hear lines like, “You know I know you feel the way you do because I let you go.” The vibes are a little more lonely on “Ain’t Got Me,” as we hear about the desperate need to be with somebody. Throughout the track, lead vocalist Reign LaFreniere yearns for comfort and compassion, practically begging for this other person to be in his life. He sings, “You got everything, but you ain’t got me” and “I just want the right to hold you tight tonight,” hoping his chance will come. On “Show It To Me,” Reign takes the romance a step further. Over warm guitar lines, flourishing melodies, and lighthearted riffs, he mentions how he “wanna be your man,” being careful not to get too ahead of himself.
While these tracks have a hopefulness or a sense of ease to them, there are other tracks on the album that venture into heavier territory. On the opening “Set Me Up,” Reign gives us a bit of attitude as he sings, “Why don’t you just set me up? / Come on, tell me what I did to mess up.” This sass spills into the music, where interrupting guitar riffs, steady drums, and groovy bass turn the track into an enthusiastic rock moment. The rhythms and melodies come across stronger on “Pretty People,” making it a lighter part of the album. There is plenty of vulnerability on this song, as it weighs the options of staying with someone or parting ways for good. Both the explosive rock sound of “Set Me Up” and the vulnerability of “Pretty People” are brought together on “Columbia,” which navigates a dark relationship. The agitated guitars and vocals give it that “meant for the arena” sound, while the blunt lines like, “I saw her kissing all of my friends / But I don’t care, wanna see it again” and “She’s so cold-blooded,” take things to a personal level.