Throughout their career, New York’s new-wave punk rock act The Bravery have been haloed by “Next Big Thing” finger-pointing from sources as varied as Rolling Stone, and The Village Voice (the VV of yore—not the shell of that moniker than remains today). They didn’t do too excellent a job making good on their savior assertions with their passable self-titled debut from a while back, anchored by the auspicious but forgettable single “An Honest Mistake.” I remember saying at the time how over-hyped they were, and how crummy and uninspired their sound was, myself.
With Las Vegas’ The Killers rise to fame, The Bravery’s reputation became all the more dubious when a feud between the two bands (which turned out to be not much more than a publicity stunt) thrust The Bravery into the limelight, and had them positioned as nothing more than poseurs riding the new-wave dance rock coattails of Flowers & Co. into fleeting fame and fortune. On that same note, the victory between the two bands most assuredly went to The Killers—what with their trillion-selling debut Hot Fuss being ten times more enjoyable that The Bravery.
Now, with the release of The Bravery’s second album—and The Killers Sam’s Town resting on shelves, as well—round two is poised to begin. As anyone that has listened to Sam’s Town knows, it is scattershot, kind-of directionless, and chock full of hollow Springsteen posturing. I was expecting even less from The Bravery’s follow-up, The Sun & The Moon, but my oh my was I very, very wrong. I first caught a sniff of The Sun & The Moon via the catchy, hyper-literate first single “Time Won’t Let Me Go” when it popped up on the satellite radio station I listen to religiously (funnily enough, it came on directly after The Killers “When You Were Young”). I dug the tune immensely, and was more than a little surprised to find out that it was none other that The Bravery who was responsible for it. Before long I got my hands on a reviewable copy of the complete album, and I’m proud to say that it hasn’t left my stereo yet.
With The Sun & The Moon, The Bravery have made good on the lofty expectations placed on them when they first hit the scene. This is one of the best rock albums to drop this year—and has more than earned a place on my eventual year-end best of list. They take all the best from their influences—The Clash, The Buzzcocks, The Strokes, Depeche Mode, a dash of Kaiser Chiefs-esque Brit-rock—and pile on a butt-load of hooks and make it their own. And boy, does it work.
There isn’t a weak spot to be found, as they flow seamlessly from loose guitar rock, a dash of synthesizer, an acoustic ballad or two; everything just feels so much tighter and more focused than on their first album. My advice: Check out “”Time Won’t Let Me Go,” if you dig it (and how could you not), then you’ll love this disc.
Kudos to The Bravery, as you have made me eat my words. Not to mention, you’ve left The Killers with a bloody nose, face down in the boxing ring.
I can hear the referee now: “…7…8…9…”
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.