When a member of a popular group ventures off into “solo project land,” it’s quite literally hit or miss, as a lengthy roster of artists testify to the unpredictability of veering from a band’s tested, successful formula (I’m looking at you, Scott Weiland). So when The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. announced his solo side-project Big Talk earlier this year, fans were right to be a little wary of the early-aught superstars’ drummer trying his hand at the solo gig. The good news is that Vannucci’s album is a strong effort, showing a love for American power-pop and vast guitar rock.
Big Talk gives listeners healthy doses of Vannucci’s and former bandmate/ Big Talk guitarist Taylor Milne’s influences—ranging from tinges of Big Star riffs, Tom Petty-esque American landscapes, and chugging beats mirroring the Cars. Killers fans need not fret, for charged synth rock and soaring guitar runs still linger. The album starts off with a lit fuse exploding into the soaring “Katzenjammer”, a guitar-heavy anthem about morning whiskey, smokes, and not-giving-a-damn lifestyle. “Getaways” echoes early Petty mentalities, bleeding into “Under Water”, a catchy pop tune ready for late summer radio. After a charged group of tracks, Vannucci dials things down a bit on “No Whiskey”, a sparse acoustic picker that bubbles over into a frustrated, bluesy jam—a welcome change of pace.
“Girl at Sunrise”, “Living in Pictures”, and “Hunting Season” follow a similar recipe of loud, chugging pop-rock that rolls easily through Vannucci’s sunny, Vegas desert. “A Fine Time to Need Me” is melodic, wailing longing at its best, leading into the stifled blues closer “Big Eyes”, capping off a well-crafted and full-bodied album.
Though Big Talk doesn’t deviate from the trusted rock-pop path with a few bluesy stepping stones, it’s a satisfying listen in which this drummer-turned-front man holds his own incredibly well.