Review Summary: The worse of the better.
With “Our Own Wars”, Mike Reed was untying shoelaces with his eyes. If we’re even to consider the possibility, he was also literally ready to bend over backwards to find the words
, biting the bullet of fast-moving cosmopolitan plots . In its frolicking with counter-intuition, “Our Own Wars” became a head-on collision of physical realia, where the tangible was jumbled up with the dogmatic, and the visionary outwitted its own scheme.
This time around, Small Brown Bike are “aiming with their eyes”, maybe hoping they’ll miss, and shelving photographs like the unruffled midwife back at home. Dead Reckoning comes face-to-face with revelations unspoken and begs the question: “Have you lived through me?”
“I can too” is the four-letter giveaway, perhaps the conclusion they were looking for from you and I. In essence, Small Brown Bike look to their own moniker to strike back with crooning irony. Dead Reckoning pens the epiphanies, hobbles over rooftops and embraces the geriatric overtones of its makers; everything a small brown bike by no means represents. Regardless of the seemingly destructive nihilism, the album reverts back to a conscious, God-fearing frame of reference.
This appears like their defining moment; a post-revisionist threnody to some life once lost, recovery from a midlife crisis, but ultimately, it isn’t. It’s about “returning to things we don’t know”. Beyond all the nautical metaphors (“This ship will not overturn”, “Past times find ways to drown”) found on “This Ship Will Burn”, there is a strong sense that this world is too big for the both of us.
Where Dead Reckoning ultimately succeeds, but to a lesser extent, is in the classicality of its instrumentation; this is still the four-piece treading in mud, but dusting off their smoking jackets a tad too much. A small brown bike would certainly make for a speedy ride, and like no four-by-four, and by some degree of attentiveness, you’ve been there
and seen that. That’s just the type of drawing-in you’re in for with Dead Reckoning.