The album “Relationships 2” which features collaboration work with Matt Cowley, Tania Sheratte and Hazze Wazeen, certifies that Rockidle constructs songs much the way he always has, with blunt-force drums, muscular basslines, superheated guitars turned up to the edge, and ear-piercing anthemic choruses. What’s gotten sharper are the melodies. Singer-songwriter Derek Hagan aka Rockidle has become a more tuneful songwriter, balancing bombast with more nuance than he has ever showed. That combination pays dividends for the artist right from the start of the album, with the opening track “No Door Is Closed Forever” which is awash with acoustic and organic instrumentation. The song was chosen as the opener, because it is the next chapter of a story which closed the previous album “Relationships”.
That particular song was a tribute to the singer-songwriter’s parents and closed Rockidle’s relationship with his homeland, Ireland, whilst this new song celebrates the ending of his hiatus from music, and a fresh start in the scene.
The second cut, “Vinyl Junkies” is the story of a fictional character whose obsession, for all things vinyl, brings his relationship with his partner to an ultimatum, when he has to choose between the two…and he chooses his vinyl collection. It’s a rugged and robust composition with an extremely catchy chorus.
“Degeneration” sees the Finland-based singer-songwriter launch into a set of jangling verses which explode into intense, octave pushing choruses. “There is a generation of people that get left behind or lost in the modern world,” explained Rockidle. “If you can’t keep up, you get left behind. This is a song about them,” he concluded. “Ciara” is a mid-tempo ballad for Rockidle’s daughter, and unfolds the story of her desire to watch endless episodes of Peppa Pig as a child. It’s a tender and heartwarming composition.
“Change” flips the sonic template with its crunchy, chugging guitars, as Rockidle affronts the dilemma of Brexit, 5 years down the road, when debates, confusion and contradiction on that choice is still pretty much the order of the day.
“Give Me Back My Life” takes on the topic of the moment, and takes a glance at life over the last eighteen months. Rockidle visualizes the song in a kind of Covid The Musical stage production, and it certainly has all the show time dynamics and qualities to do so.
All of which brings us to “Autumn Air”, which for me is the absolute finest song in Rockidle’s catalog. Period. And I mean that on every level. From the songwriting to the arranging, and especially the vocal performances, by both Rockidle and I suspect, Tania Sheratte.
The song written for Mira – the person who has been closest to Rockidle in his adult life – carries such a powerful aura and haunting atmosphere that it is hard not be sucked in and captivated by it. This will keep you reaching for the replay button.
Up next is “Climate Change”, which is all about our relationship with the planet earth, and the future of the next generation. This one is beautifully built on the backdrop of the rich backing vocals, which is perfectly juxtaposed with Rockidle’s lead melody.
“Lost In The Shuffle” takes a look at the music industry and how the same cycles repeat themselves, though in different context. Notwithstanding all the technology and musical platforms make it easy to get onboard today, rising above the noise still remains a major problem.
What if kids ruled the world, sending adults to bed at 6 o clock? What if the parents had to get up and go to school? Those are some of the questions “New World Order” puts forward. Rockidle got the idea by reading Horrid Henry books to his daughter, Orla, every night. It got to the stage that she knew and would say the sentence out loud before he read the words. This is followed by “Degeneration (Rotten Version)”, which is pretty self-descriptive.
The album closes with “I Am Who I Am”, an introspective track on self-discovery in adulthood. “Things that you’d shrug off if you were a younger version of yourself, don’t wash when you get to a certain stage of your life,” explains Rockidle. “And there are times you need to make a stand, and fight your corner.” A note of interest – the track actually contains a Roger Daltrey vocal sample on the outro chorus.
“Relationships 2” is a testament to Rockidle’s vision – looking both inward and outward. His music sounds fresh and vibrant, crackling with youthful exuberance, even though tempered by time, but still more than the amplifiers or mainstream radio can handle. Much like any serious rocker, Rockidle has a desire and passion to do more with a guitar than simply strum it. The proof is in the 12 tracks on “Relationships 2”. Why 12 tracks, and not 11 like the previous releases? Well that’s a whole new story!