Roadside Graves, who honed their ramshackle sound on 2010’s You Won’t Be Happy With Me EP, are back with their newest full-length, We Can Take Care of Ourselves, a companion piece to S.E. Hinton’s classic novel The Outsiders.
The album isn’t a retelling of The Outsiders or even an analysis, but it ruminates on the same themes and references the characters and settings. The scrappiness of the band fits the mood well as does their folk rock style.
String arrangements, such as those on “All Over the World,” add a cinematic flair to We Can Take Care of Ourselves suggesting the album is meant to be more of a soundtrack. Like a soundtrack, knowing the source material is not necessary, but it certainly adds to the experience. For instance, “Teenagers are Tired” is still a gorgeous and moving acoustic ballad whether or not the listener is thinking about Ponyboy and Johnny, but the experience is more immersive if they are.
Overall, We Can Take Care of Ourselves feels slower and more restrained than the previous EP, but there are a few songs that energize the record like “Hank Williams” which opens up with a jumpy piano riff and escalates into a barroom romp.
The instrumentals really stand out. The hard-rocking “Tuff Hair” and the haunting piano-synth duet “Hospital” add depth and display immense musicianship.
While nothing on here matches the power of the epic “Liv Tyler” on their last EP, We Can Take Care of Ourselves shows that Roadside Graves are willing to take risks conceptually and that makes them one of the more compelling Americana rock bands playing today.
We Can Take Care of Ourselves is out on July 19 via Autumn Tone Records.