Review: The Retinas continued development reaches new heights on Yellow Rocket



The Retinas’ sound has been a series of twists and turns, since their 2011 formation. Their early EPs and albums, now lost from new listeners’ ears, featured a heavy influence from The Strokes and their fellow garage rockers. The Retinas’ latest release, Yellow Rocket EP, brings back fresh versions of “Dissatisfaction” and “Ketamind” with a more Pixies-centric sound.

“Dissatisfaction” hooks you immediately with a synth and strumming guitar that screams “indie anthem” as a the opening lyric, “hello,” introduces us to the EP. Frontman Tom McHugh’s vocals pierce through a wall of sound, as he begs the listener to help him find satisfaction in his confusing world. “I want to know who was holding the gun / When it came / Shot into my ribcage / You say ‘I’m the one who’s been holding it this whole time / Stupid prick / I’m the one who killed us you know it.’” McHugh appears to be haunted by failed relationships and an adolescence full of regret, yet, oddly empty. He searches for the answers behind his own life. The entire song serves as a gradual build before McHugh provides one final assurance, “I’m not going nowhere / I’m not going nowhere.”

“Stress” is the perfect follow up to the opener. It’s reminiscent of The Retinas’ early work with a heavy dose of their recent influences. As is often the case, Anthony Fulginitti’s drums power through and keep listeners bouncing the entire way. Once again, McHugh’s vocals pierce through the instrumentation, but unfortunately, the guitar seems to become lost in the mix during the lead moments. The lead guitar is much more prominent in the EP’s namesake, another exciting track.

Throughout Yellow Rocket, Andy Silverman’s bass perfectly fills out the trio’s unique sound. He and Fulginitti work together to provide an exciting foundation for McHugh’s falsetto and riffs. Silverman’s arrival (the newest addition to the band) coincided with The Retinas’ string of fantastic and inspiring releases.

My main concern with Yellow Rocket is the continued use of old material. “Dissatisfaction” and “Ketamind” have both been featured on previous (and recent) releases. A year or two ago, the band went through and removed their early discography from the internet as part of a personal cleanse and rebranding. The earlier versions of these tracks are no longer available

Unlike the other four tracks here, “Ketamind” didn’t do a whole lot for me — it felt very surface level. The solos/leads felt sudden with no real transitions between each section of the song. The chorus of “Can’t you see it’s all in my head / My head,” provides a dark picture which adds depth to the otherwise lacking track.

The Retinas have been a constant in the Philly music scene for several years now. Their hard work has been featured on local stations 104.5 and WXPN.  I’m excited by their continued development and you should be too.


Top Track: Dissatisfaction

For Fans of: The Strokes covering The Pixies, alternative rock with punk roots

Pros: Continued development of arrangements, pensive lyrics

Cons: Songs have been reused/rerecorded, instrumentation sometimes leaves you wanting more