The Rentals released a new album this year called Return to Alphaville. Listening to it feels like sitting down with an old friend and catching up after having not seen each other for years - which is apropos since it has been since 1999 since they released their last full album, Seven More Minutes. This isn't a review of that album or even the new one. I don't think I could be objective enough to properly criticize it because of my attachment to the band's first album Return of the Rentals. This is more like a memory review. If that's even a thing...
I remember their “return” which marked the beginning of a long love affair for me with their power pop - the days when my friends and I would argue about the pronunciation of Moog. In 1995, when my friendship with P. began - woo hoo hoo - I was a dumb sixteen year old. I drove a 1980 baby blue Chevy pickup that had a dented door because a rodeo kid bumped into it with his giant F-350 but he never paid for its repair. My musical palette veered between metal acts like Pantera, Slayer, and Anthrax to alt-rockers like Weezer, Nirvana, and Alice In Chains. Weezer’s 1996 album Pinkerton would become an anthem of sorts for me, but before that album hit and fed my hormone soaked, adolescent doubts, Return of the Rentals was released and comforted the ennui of small town disillusionment.
The album colors a large part of my final high school years - the years in which we teens were supposed to become adults and take life by the horns. These were the years in which I thought I fell in love when actually I was in clumsily-fumbling-with-naivety - epitomized by the night in which my second hand blazer and I never made it to the prom. Broken hearts were left on blacktop backroads, and “Please Let That Be You” was the track of that night. The Rentals wormed their way into my ears and into my gut. The potent one-two punch of Return of the Rentals and Pinkerton served as the salve I needed before this geek would forever leave home for university and a new life.
So every now and then, when stressed by "the responsible life," I’ll queue up Return of the Rentals and imagine I’m in my own personal episode of The Wonder Years. I don’t think my voice over would be as poignant as Kevin Arnold's, but I think the accompanying 90s soundtrack would be top notch.