Calling The World is the long-awaited follow-up to Rooney’s self-titled debut in 2003. In what seemed like forever to listeners worldwide was even longer for the band as they sloughed through years of creative struggles and label disagreements, starting with an abandoned “Lost Album” and culminating in a more mature, yet still Rooney-like sound.
Leader singer Robert Schwartzman’s goal of the album was to “make people dance.” He succeeds to varying degrees. Songs like the classic rock era “Don’t Come Around Again” and the Beach Boy-esque “I Should Have Been After You” certainly are upbeat with very catchy choruses, but neither warrant more than approving head-bops.
Robert is triumphant, through, with the infectious “When Did Your Heart Go Missing?” and disco-sounding “Are You Afraid?” as causes for celebration and street-side boogying. “What For” is Calling’s second most resembling of a ballad, with some very true words of wisdom about relationships: “You can work this out if you both try / It’s hard to cheat but harder to lie.”
It takes until the album’s second half before we are again treated to true Rooney music. “Love Me Or Leave Me” includes classic non-stop repeating lyrics, while “Paralyzed” gives the band a rebellious tinge despite the song being about the harmful effects (but in a good way) of a woman.
In what might be the coolest non-apology song (“Believe In Me”) also has one of the coolest keyboard melodies (by keyboardist Louie Stevens). I’m conflicted between the passionate vocals of Schwartzman and the not-so passionate lyrics of Schwartzman (“I know I’ve been acting strange / But wait don’t leave I know I’ll change”). There seems to be too much of a disconnect between the two.
The album’s true ballad is also the album’s concluding song (“Help Me Find My Way”). The song serves a dual purpose. One as a sort-of summarized view of the band’s struggle to create Calling The World, and, more importantly, the other as a loving tribute to Robert’s late father (“You can’t expect me to fly / I’ve been trying my best to finish / Where you left off”).
It’s very nice to have another Rooney album to listen to, but I think the band really did struggle to express itself differently (the album’s first half) and to simply retread on its already popular sound (the album’s second half). Maybe the third effort will be what the band’s looking for.