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Big Troubles: Romantic Comedy

New Jersey’s Big Troubles has toured with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Real Estate, and it shares those groups’ penchant for shy, down-turned melodies that somehow manage to sound sad and cheery simultaneously. On Big Troubles’ second album, Romantic Comedy, singer-songwriters and principal members Alex Craig and Ian Drennan move beyond the sound of contemporary guitar-pop and aim directly for the genre’s forebears. “Love is in the air, and I don’t care,” Craig purrs on the catchy single “Sad Girls,” affecting the breathy, lovelorn miserablism of the Zombies’ Colin Blunstone and Joe Pernice over a deceptively bouncy backbeat. Fortunately, the songwriting matches the level of ambition on Romantic Comedy, with Craig and Drennan expanding on their bedroom-pop roots with lush, exquisite arrangements that remain rooted in shiny guitars, simple rhythms, and bright hooks. Aiding Big Troubles on Romantic Comedy is producer Mitch Easter, whose work with R.E.M. on its first two records exhibited the same mix of roots-conscious songwriting and youthful energy. The back half of Romantic Comedy—particularly the winning “Time Bomb”—is a bit feistier and more rocking than stately opening tracks like “Make It Worse,” which smothers pleasurable jangle over poisoned lyrics. It isn’t a new formula, but in Big Troubles’ capable hands, it’s still a highly effective one.


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