When it was announced late last month that Between the Buried and Me vocalist Tommy Rogers would be releasing his debut solo album under the name Thomas Giles, my expectations for it weren’t exactly lofty. After all, these kinds of things usually fall into the “vanity project” category, and I’ve been let down by them more times that I’d like to remember. So with trepidation I downloaded Pulse, the aforementioned solo album from Mr. Rogers, from his record label’s promotion pool. From the very first minute and a half of leading track “Sleep Shake,” I knew my jaded apprehensions were probably going to be proven wrong.
Over a bed of clean guitars and keyboards, Rogers starts off Pulse with a hushed croon, but soon after, a thudding drum loop breaks through the mix and “Sleep Shake” quickly becomes an absolute monolith of an opener. Without a moment to catch my breath, “Reverb Island” came next. The Muse-like stomper pulsates with a keyboard line that runs throughout most of its hard-charging rhythm. From this point on, the album’s wide-eyed scope starts revealing itself. The next cut, the haunting “Mr. Bird,” with its sparse piano melody and Spanish guitar solo, also shows that Rogers doesn’t need to rely on thick studio layering to deliver his message.
It takes someone with considerable talent to not be overwhelmed by Between the Buried and Me’s chaotic arrangements, and Rogers has more than proved that himself in that arena. But Pulse is a revelation for the singer. With it, he’s shown us that his solo songwriting has its own distinct and thrilling voice. He’s managed to fill Pulse with a myriad of stylistic moods yet there isn’t a moment on the entire album that feels forced. We’re talking about a work that runs the range from sci-fi inspired soundscapes (“Reject Falicon”) to muscular post-hardcore (“Medic”), and everything still flows seamlessly. Even when Rogers heads into ‘70s folk territory on the plaintive “Scared,” it fits into the record’s framework. BTBAM promise a new album in 2011, but make no mistake – with gifts this abundant, Rogers will surely be making another solo album sometime in the future.
Pulse will be out on February 1, 2011
Label: Metal Blade Records
By Carlos Ramirez