Friday, June 5, 2009

Brakesbrakesbrakes -- Touchdown

Brakesbrakesbrakes -- Touchdown (Fatcat)

There’s nothing particularly original about the sound of Brakesbrakesbrakes (who I will refer to for the rest of the review simply as Brakes). This is British guitar pop that is capable of pleasing fans of Oasis, Cast, Nada Surf (not British, but sounds close enough for me) and others of that ilk. In fact, capable is putting it mildly.

These boys got some songs. And they know how to play them. Good songs well executed. That’s an unbeatable combination.

This is apparent from the get go. “Two Shocks” is a swell opener. It starts slowly, with singer Eamon Hamilton intoning gently in a manner of fact manner over percussion dominated backing, as the guitars reinforce the drums and the vibes. The music breaks down a couple of times for Hamilton to sing, “All I grow is disillusioned”. The intensity subtly builds until the guitars explode in the manner of classic shoegazer rock. This is a heck of a way to start.

The best song on the disc is so simply constructed and relies to a degree on the same slow build. “Crush on You” matches pithy unrelated lyrics (proper names, catch phrases and what not: “Vampire/snake eyes/snake face/ooh I got a crush on you.”) to a basic rhythm guitar pattern. As with “Two Shocks” the intensity of the playing builds to what the constitutes the chorus, a true release with a great lead guitar figure. In a better world, this would be a big hit.

Fans of Nada Surf would really enjoy “Ancient Mysteries”, a punchy pop tune that mixes verses that smack of ‘72 era Bowie and Roxy Music, into a guitar fueled chorus. The song is barely shy of two minutes and does what it needs to in that time.

“Worry About it Later” is equally brief. It’s a playful jangle pop song that would have sounded great between The Hummingbirds and The Housemartins on a 1987 college radio show.

That late ‘80s college radio era is also evoked on “Oh! Forever”, which rumbles with the majesty of The Jesus And Mary Chain, but with the dignity of Darklands (as opposed to the squalling feedback of Psychocandy). Like “Crush on You”, the Brakes have confidence in the strength of their melodies and rhythms, allowing them to build and build. This time the release doesn’t come in the form of a chorus, but in an extra layer of a strummed electric guitar. The song becomes a mantra of devotion.

There is nothing on this album that is less than listenable and there are a few more highlights that I'll let you discover. This is just a rock solid enjoyable record and there can never be enough of those.

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