Review Summary: "Fight the real enemy!" - Sinead O' Connor
Nowadays, when it comes to dance-punk, most people don't have issues with it, they have weekly subscriptions. It seems that any quality band in the genre has to work overtime to achieve apt recognition, while a myriad of inferiors are held of the same commercial regard as the aforementioned. These inferior groups are often shallow, irritating outfits capable of creating one or two decent tracks and scores of scathing, synth-driven songs that focus far too much on commercial acceptance than artistic value. Case in point, The Bravery.
Beginning in 2003, and since then dabbling in sounds affiliated with not only alternative and indie, but post-punk revival as well, The Bravery have always been capable of creating some radio-friendly hits. However, these “semi-gems” are located amongst a myriad of songs that have been conceived and executed at a far higher caliber by bands of superior status. Therefore, it is not very difficult to understand why The Bravery have had less mainstream success than bands such as The Killers and even Shiny Toy Guns to some extent. Another factor to The Bravery’s lack of appeal is the fact that they, unlike the ideal path of a band, constantly regress. One would hope that Stir The Blood
would halt this cyclic regression, but of course, The Bravery’s predictability knows no bounds.
Each song on this album is so pathetically predictable that it’s hard not to find yourself succumbing to boredom. Even the undeniably catchy pulse that is exhibited on tracks like “Hate***” seems relatively expected. It’s almost as if The Bravery want
you to be able to predict every minor detail of their music while retaining all the pop sensibilities within their cynical form of dance-punk. Endicott’s vocal stylings still alternate from an adenoidal pitch to a poor attempt a croon. The pace he sings is typical; the lyrics he sings and abhorrent and trite. On the flip side, the occasional flourishes of technicality on the guitar and drums are nice, but they are few and far between. Another negative is the fact that the synthesizer is used as a mode for masochism rather than one of enjoyment or fascination. The excitement found in this formula is diaphanous, and thus Stir The Blood
is a release destitute of originality.
On “Adored” the aforementioned vocal stylings fail to impress, and by the time the electric feel infects (in the H1N1 sort of way) the listener on “Song For Jacob” it is obvious that The Bravery tithe very little originality. Granted, the band do occasionally tap into some unexpected form of innovation shown best on “Sugar Pill” and “She’s So Bendable”. The latter is a placid electric-rock ballad that makes the heaps of recurring, vocal angst seem apt, even somewhat enjoyable. The former is a folksy song that changes the pace, thus making it the most memorable of the tracks exhibited here. However, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Case in point, “Red Hands And White Knuckles” takes similarities from Shiny Toy Guns (a group that is arguably more desirable than The Bravery for the simple fact that The Bravery imitates their sound on this track). However, said track is hindered by the very flaw that so many of the tracks on the album suffer from. This plague is a series of scatter-shot, sideways allusions to several other outfits. Each allusion of course has been drastically improved by the evident Midas Touch that The Bravery possesses.
Exhibit A: “Adored” incorporates the glum aspects of Interpol and a chorus that rips-off the anthemic sounds of Bruce Springsteen and The Stone Roses. However, the fornication that has destroyed any and all hope for this track to be a success is evident. Unfortunately, this formula is very popular on Stir The Blood
. It is seen on numerous tracks like “Jack-O-Lantern Man” and “I Am Your Skin.” Even “Hate***”, one of the album’s highlights follows the path of angst-ridden pop meets uptempo, faux-punk styles. Therefore, the inferior, rehashed dribble that is found on The Bravery’s third LP is saddening and entirely forgettable. That is, until you watch the video for “Hate***” (I mean really, what the *** was that?).