Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Bravery

I'll admit I liked the first Bravery album. Sure it was faux-New Wave trash but it had a nice sensibility to it. It sounded a bit raw, a bit amateurish, more heartfelt than The Killers' slick buzz. The entire album just kind of swooped and swooned from one chord lick and synth pound to the next and lead singer Sam Endicott certainly had the low drone and self-effacing look of a trashy electro god. Too bad his lyrics are for shit.

I had high hopes for the follow-up album. The Killers dug themselves an early grave with Sam's Town, a Springsteen inspired mess. They got too full of themselves, too confident. They decided -- perhaps correctly -- that the whole New Wave revival had reached it's zenith and it was time to push in a new direction. But Springsteen? That's all sorts of f.u.b.a.r. This was The Bravery's chance to rise above the clutter and stake their claim, unfortunately they made the same mistake The Killers did. They got self-absorbed and serious. They ditched the scene and started making… yes, "meaningful music." Fuck that.

Thing is, as soon as I saw the title of this album I cringed. "The Sun and the Moon?" It just conjures up all manner of ghastly Stevie Nicks comparisons. Would it have a unicorn on the cover? Would there be smoke and witch hazel? No, instead the cover looks just like every cover ever made by any Beach Boys inspired band. The Killers may have looked to the almighty Springsteen for their licks but it turns out that The Bravery said, "Forget Duran Duran and Soft Cell we're kicking it Beach Boys style." I wish I were only kidding.

Maybe the failure of "The Sun and the Moon" has something to do with producer Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Incubus). He took the teeth out of The Bravery's sound. So much so that it's almost like they never had teeth. It's almost like the very first album was something I dreamt. Something I conjured up after a particularly greasy night at some smarmy dance club in 1988.

The album starts off on a ridiculous foot with something called "Intro" that is only a few seconds long. I guess it is an intro but why bother. The first song, "Believe", throws down with every cliché imaginable for this type of pap -- we get bored and banal lyrics, we get strings, we get "live" drumming and we get tons of sap. The only songs that break the mold are "Every Word is a Knife in My Ear" (which is really nothing more than the same title phrase repeated endlessly) and "Fistful of Sand" (did I hear a synth buried in there?). But what really kills the album is the la la las and do do dos. Every. Single. Fucking. Song breaks, at some point, into vocal harmonizing. It's mind numbing.

Sure, the first Bravery album was shameless and cheesy but at least it wasn't desperate. This, this you'll just be hearing playing softly over the loudspeakers while you're browsing the aisles at Dillards.

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