Let’s get this out of the way first: The Rembrandts—the pop-rock duo of multi-instrumentalists and songwriters Phil Solem and Danny Wilde—co-wrote the effervescent theme song, “I’ll Be There For You” In the mid 90’s for the hit TV series and global phenomena ‘Friends’ There are probably very few people on the planet who can’t sing the chorus, a pleasant ear worm that harks back to happy times of the long running series and multiple re runs! However, for Solem and Wilde, that song is just one small chapter in a friendship and creative relationship spanning four decades, two bands, four studio albums, two greatest hits records, and a catalogue brimming with smart, well-wrought pop gems.
The bands m.o. is to only put out things that have a timeless quality, perfectly achievedwith their new album Via Satellite, the first Rembrandts studio album in 18 years. The meticulous, guitar-driven songs explore every nook and cranny of the contemporary pop continuum. “How Far Would You Go” is jangly rock singed lightly with ’60s psychedelia; “Broken Toy” hews toward dizzying power-pop with hollering vocals awash in emotional grit; and “Come to California” is electrified roadhouse blues-rock burnished by glam-soul detailing. Anchoring these songs are Solem and Wilde’s harmonies, which are imploring and tender on the twangy “Count On You”; Beatles-esque on the jaunty “Me And Fate”; and graceful spirals on the chiming midtempo ballad “Now”.
Via Satellite‘s lyrics are certainly clear-eyed about life’s ebbs and flows—including romantic breakdowns, changes of geographical scenery, unexpected emotional fissures—and the leaps of faith people take in order to pursue happiness. As always, words come courtesy of both Solem and Wilde. The former penned the melancholy “Broken Toy” the lyrical contributions an observational take on the end of a relationship: “Most of the other stuff coming out of me was just how I look at the world” says Solem & Wilde concurs… “Phil’s a quirky guy—he’s the guy that comes up with the crazy lyrics and, you know, borderline genius stuff. I’m more the romantic in the band, and I write more relationship stuff. It’s just my comfort zone. He helps me with that, and I help him with that, and then we come up with a Rembrandts song.”