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The Racer - Passengers (Review)

The Racer, Passengers

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

INDIE rock outfit The Racer by their own admission “usually picture driving to the music we make”. It’s a sound philosophy that serves them well during several of Passengers highlights.

Hailing from Monroe, NY, yet evocative of British acts like Snow Patrol and Coldplay at times, this is a solid offering from the five-piece that also contains a sense of the epic about it.

Book-ended by the title track, this aims to be both populist and cinematic. Little wonder, then, that several tracks have already earned US TV placements on shows like MTV’s Jersey Shore and The Challenge.

And true to form, Passenger‘s intro lays out a slice of indie mood rock that combines piano and guitars to cinematic effect, brooding manfully like a Snow Patrol track in waiting. You can well imagine it fitting into a TV show such as Grey’s Anatomy or The Vampire Diaries.

Pete Marotta’s vocals have a power about them, too, that’s comparable with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody or US acts like Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem. Impact, the first song proper on the LP, really holds up those comparisons, both vocally and instrumentally, slow-building its way into an emotive indie-rock anthem.

But they’re not just about mood-rock. Flashdance piledrives its way along and is rich in melody, while Settle, conversely, has a tenderness about it that’s genuinely endearing, especially when Marotta hits some falsetto notes. Yes, it slow builds towards an epic finale but it’s well done.

Standout moments include Celebrate, which has a real urgency and vibrancy about it (showcasing the most powerful side of the band), Lost. Love. Art, which adopts a more electronic refrain akin to OK Computer era Radiohead, and the brooding Ivy, which again leans towards the cinematic (especially in its use of vocal layering as the track builds).

Legends, meanwhile, strips things back for a heart-on-sleeve moment of acoustic rock that brings out the vulnerability of Marotta’s vocals, while Passengers rounds things off with a slow-building epic that hits stadium-sized highs come the chant-worthy end. The combination of piano and guitar, hinted at during the intro to the album, is here fully realised to properly display the band’s arena-filling credentials.

The Racer therefore deserve to find a big following on both sides of the Atlantic.

Download picks: Flashdance, Celebrate, Lost. Love. Art, Ivy, Passengers

Track listing:

  1. Passengers (Intro)
  2. Impact
  3. Flashdance
  4. Settle
  5. The Fire
  6. Celebrate
  7. Lost. Love. Art
  8. Ivy
  9. In Stereo
  10. September
  11. Legends
  12. Passengers