WE REVIEW THE NEW ALBUM FROM RALPH – TODAY ME, TOMORROW YOU
New York-born rock band Ralph’s debut album “Today Me, Tomorrow You” is a jumbled concoction of folk, punk and rock music with a nostalgic feel to its combination of angsty lyricism and influence of American folk-punk.
Opening on a bang with the title track “Today Me, Tomorrow You” the song is as foreboding as its title suggests with growling, theatrical vocal delivery and ominous, racing electric guitar. This atmosphere of trepidation is only emphasised by doomsday lyricism singing as a Grim reaper character warning the listener that their end is nigh, the characterisation and theatrical approach of this makes for an engaging and delightful listen. Strangely and unfortunately, despite the title track and cover, the rest of “Today Me, Tomorrow You” doesn’t proceed in this direction losing all elements of its spooky opener as the album progresses.
The second track titled “Dave” is a much more optimistic-sounding number with cheerful and energetic guitars and lyrics telling the tale of a dead man and his immoral life with an almost A Christmas Carol-like spin on the story. The track is more humorous than haunting in comparison to the album’s opener but still has a strong concept behind it. However, for me from this point is where the albums cracks really start to show.
Although there are some definite groove moments in the guitar across “Today Me, Tomorrow You” a lot of the tracks feel somewhat incomplete or quite rough around the edges. An example of this is the song “Open Letter” in which the murky mixing of the track means the vocals aren’t as distinguishable as they should be and the songs production sounds messy, on other tracks such as the song structure is overly repetitive such as on “I’ll See You Again”. On “Alone Inside My Mind” the lyricism is laughably maudlin and sounds sloppy sometimes without a smooth flow to its rhyming schemes. On the closing track “Love Gun” and previous number “Sit Down” the lyrics are at many points cringe-worthy macho masquerading, although this may be satirical if it is it needs to be made more obvious such as on other satirical tracks from the album. These key issues hold back the album from sounding fully polished and professional.
There are moments on Ralphs debut of creative characterisation such as on the opener as well as the track “The Chesterfield Jugband Experience” which pokes fun at the redneck lifestyle with humorous lyrics. The chaotic numbers “Ok” and “A Madman Scorned” are short and snappy moments of intentional insanity on the album which pull the listener out from the slump that is “Alone Inside My Mind” and despite its cheesy lyricism the track “Sit Down” has some lively instrumentals.
Frankly, the main problem with “Today Me, Tomorrow You” lies in its disorganisation. There is no clear theme or concept running throughout the album which transitions from one extreme of mood to another in a way that doesn’t sound deliberate or thought through. There are some mixing and production issues that add to this sense of confusion. The album began on a high point, but quickly seems to lose direction. There are some promising moments throughout, but unfortunately Ralph almost seems to sabotage this by presenting many of the tracks in unflattering ways. If they can create a more fully realised concept for their next album and defining sound for themselves, the result will be much more cohesive.