Personnel: Taylor Johnson (guitar); Robert Schwartzman (piano, synthesizer, acoustic bass, background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Robert Schwartzman; Dave Trumfio.
Recording information: Beachwood Park Recording, Los Angeles, California.
Photographer: Zoey Grossman.
Six years after their previous album and under the guidance of sole original member Robert Schwartzman, Rooney return with another collection of sunny California power pop. Washed Away is Schwartzman's attempt to return to the spirit of their breakthrough debut, but instead it falls closer to their competent sophomore album Calling the World. While Washed Away doesn't add anything new to the Rooney equation, it is ultimately enjoyable. Influenced by the early sounds of bands like Supergrass, the Cardigans, and Grandaddy, Schwartzman aimed to mimic the rough-edged yet melodic songcraft of the '90s. These moments -- like the title track and "Love Me Like There's No Tomorrow" -- veer closer to one of their biggest influences (and nagging comparisons), Weezer. The Weezer shadow also looms over a couple highlights on Washed Away. Lead single "Why" -- which features French singer Soko on vocals -- merges late-era Weezer arena rock with a very Strokes-ian rhythm, while the head-bopping "Do You Have to Go?" pulls off a similar trick. Unabashedly West Coast in its sunny sound, Washed Away also nods to the Beach Boys' "Kokomo" on the James Blunt co-penned "Don't Be a Hero" with the updated line "Corona, tequila, a little marijuana. Bahama, Tijuana, take me where you wanna go." The feel-good time continues on "Come on Baby," complete with handclaps, jangly sun-baked riffs, and a chorus of "ooh la la las." Album-closer "Sad But True" -- written for Schwartzman's directorial debut, Dreamland -- is a plaintive piano and guitar ballad that pulls in more hero-nods, this time to the Beatles and Billy Joel. For all the obvious inspirations heard on each song, Schwartzman does a nice job distilling these influences into a cohesive sound. Though their debut remains the high-water mark of production, catchiness, and vitality, Washed Away is a fine set to buffer Rooney's catalog. ~ Neil Z. Yeung