When Reuben went on an indefinite hiatus in June 2008 they caused some deep ripples in the heavy rock pond. Now, just over a year after breaking the hearts of so many of their fans, they provide this three-disc box set of every single song that isn’t on one of their three albums. Nice.
Many of these B sides and rarities collections are cynical cash generators, and it’s fair to say there is hardly an unheard moment in this collection. But it’s the painstaking collation of a bunch of radio sessions and early singles along with the wonderful video footage of their entire triumphant Main Stage set at Download Festival 2007 that marks this out as a fitting reminder as to why Reuben were a fantastic band.
Seasoned fans will notice the 47-strong tracklist is in chronological order. The cynical view would suggest that it’s simply the easiest way to lay the tracks down, but the kinder eye will see the love and care put into making sure that every live song sounds as mighty and meaty as its studio equivalent, and will know that this album serves more as a timeline; the best eulogy available.
It’s the versatility of the band that is showcased on We Should Have Gone to University. Bursting into the cathartic, acidic metal of their anthemic 2001 Pilot EP, you’re immediately reminded of the vitality of this Surrey three-piece. This vitriol and immediacy coupled with constant, love-struck harmonies is exactly what has been missed from the UK rock scene for the last year or so.
As they dynamically demonstrate their softer side with grungy ballads, you can appreciate how Jamie Lenman’s dulcet tones and searing wit set the songs apart. Flitting from rasping tongue-in-cheek disaffection to soothing lullabies in an instant, he’s one of the frontmen that made the first decade of this century so enjoyable.
While Reuben try to slice through the title of their flagship final release with trademark irony and self-deprecation, it can safely be assumed that thousands of their fans are rather pleased the trio eschewed further education to start a band. --Raziq Rauf
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