Quick Spins: Bravery's 'Stir the Blood'

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Bravery


The musical landscape has changed drastically since mid-decade, when the Bravery emerged from the dance-rock scene with its glossy synths, dramatic crooning and new-wave fashion. That's not exactly the formula for success these days. Now it's more about off-kilter rhythms, multi-part harmonies and a beard or three. But, listening to the New York quintet's third album, you'd never know that was the case. On "Stir the Blood," the band is happy -- in an extremely mopey way -- to stick to its guns, doubling down an '80s revival sound. It would be a commendable tactic if the music weren't so derivative in the first place. The band realizes this and attempts to overcompensate by going big and bigger -- keyboards clang with industrial intensity and choruses crash in on cue with club-ready beats. It's more bluntly bland than it is bad.

The Bravery's idea of adding edge is to make the synths gurgle and write a song with lyrical gems such as "There will be no tenderness/No tenderness/I will show no mercy for you/You have no mercy for me!" Singer Sam Endicott -- who spent some time between albums writing a handful of songs for Shakira's new album -- still sings with the strained wail of someone doing a Robert Smith impression while perpetually on the verge of sneezing.

The lone moment of intrigue is the brief dirge "She's So Bendable," written by bassist Mike Hindert. It's the only song of the bunch that isn't inundated with effects or a predictable surge at the chorus.

-- David Malitz

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"She's So Bendable"

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