Think one part tenderized Blink 182, a half measure of a pre-mixed synth and punk melange, a sprinkling of some finely grated techno, a pinch of mainstream alternative, and some distortion to taste. Now, marinate in two parts of Boney M. “What is this Franken-sauerkraut-parfait ?”, you might ask, but strangely, it’s not as bad as you think. Although, I don’t think it’s healthy. And that’s ‘The Bravery’.
With an album titled ‘The Sun and The Moon’, you’d expect something grand and spectacular, but all you’ll find, is an attempt that just about reaches escape velocity. However, that isn’t the only consideration that is entertained when you hear about ‘The Sun and The Moon’. The title of the album has a two-fold meaning. Firstly, it is derived from the lyrics of not one, but two of the tracks (‘Angelina’ and ‘The Ocean’) on the album. And second, (Here’s the clincher !) because there’s a second disc/side to the album where all the tracks from the first have been recreated by ‘The Bravery’ with an techno-synth feel to it, but with the exact same lyrics, or rather, almost the same vocal tracks ! A brilliant concept applied to … not so brilliant music. Reviewing both versions together, would be doing injustice to both. So it’s the ‘Sunny’ side that’s getting the most of my attention here.
The first track is the ‘Intro’ and that effectively sets the tone and the mood recommended for the rest of the ‘Sun’ tracks. However, any hints as to the style must be disregarded. The next track is ‘Believe’ and is an obvious offspring of the ‘Intro’. This is one of the better songs in the album that builds a quick and radical treble overlaid on the stable but chewy bass line from the ‘Intro’. The lyrics are recombinant clichés, half of which are the titles of the tracks. Then again, the lyrics aren’t that bad in their chimerical form. This is a generalisation that holds true for almost the entire album. What keeps it all together is the way in which Sam Endicott and every other member of the band (Yes. Every member of the band is a backing vocalist.) bring out the vocals.
‘This is not the end’ sounds familiar, like something you’d have heard a long time ago. It’s all because of a very common and predictable bass line, except for the little frill at the end. What makes this song remain in your head for a while is perhaps the feel with which it is sung and the vaguely Coldplay-ish vocals-piano-violin blends. (After a while, it’s really difficult to ignore the violins, when they’re there,). Try to avoid the imagery of the title of the next track. It never fails to make one cringe, just like the song. The high fat content of the cheese, (which you would refer to as the lyrics) is the sort that’ll clog up your arteries, or ear canals in this case. I must point out that the ‘Moon’ version of ‘Every word is a knife in my ear’ is the absolute opposite. It is darker and sounds much better. It sounds great. Perhaps the reason for having a ‘Moon’ disc was so that it might eclipse and correct some of the unpleasantness that crops up in the original ‘Sun’ tracks. (The bonus tracks ‘Rat in the walls’ and ‘Faces’ (not faeces) are in there, for free, and it’s like most of what you get for free. The ‘Moon’ disc can’t and doesn’t try to correct those two.)
‘Above and below’ is nothing out of the ordinary but is worth a mention, especially the ‘Moon’ version, which is reminiscent of some ancient DOS games, Jazz Jackrabbit in particular. (No one forgets a green macho rabbit or a sexy one with a name like Eva Earlong. Ever.) Talking of sexy, ‘Angelina’ is a brisk song laden with emotion and some interesting combinations, with the ‘Moon’ version seeming like a toned down ‘Sun’ track. ‘Split me wide open’ is no different, minus the sexy. ‘Bad Sun’ is where you feel Boney M, smack, in your face. Then you just turn the other cheek and take a ‘Fistful of sand’. After a point you begin to accept this debauchery as something that you might actually engage in, just as people might pay from their own pockets to watch a horror-movie and crap the shit out of themselves. Strange place, this world, but very real, and real things happen.
The songs that really make you feel that this album is one that is worth it are ‘The Ocean’, ‘Time won’t let me go’ and ‘Tragedy bound’. ‘The Ocean’ and ‘Tragedy bound’ are soft guitar based songs with accompaniment that comes in later. The ‘Moon’ versions are synth based and stronger sounding but retain the feel of the original through the electronicity. ‘Time won’t let me go’ similarly, is gentle and powerful.
Any discernable solos in the album are only there perhaps for conformity in form. Nothing stands out above the mediocrity. The vocals are at the other end of the spectrum. It’s plain overdone. Much can be done with the human voice, but here, it’s just too much. Anyone would be reminded of Boney M. Not that all of Boney M is bad.
On the whole, you’ve got yourself an album that’s really not that bad. Some will love it, but no doubt, some won’t. There are people who like sauerkraut, limburger, durians, etc. And there are people who like ‘The Bravery’. There are dog people, there are cat people. There are ‘Sun’ people, there are ‘Moon’ people. If you do like ‘The Bravery’, don’t worry, you’re not alone, but you’re probably part of a minority. Their music has come up in movies, games, television series, etc., and even that is testament to the goodness there. That, you can’t deny. Here’s to an album that sounds right, but ‘The Bravery’ just needs some time to grow up.
- Braggadocio Al
For more ALTERNATIVE ROCK reviews, click HERE.