Ah, Blood Brothers, ah, the oughts. No, I will not call them the “naughties” and no I will not weep. After less than two years of post-millenial pre-9/11 Postal Service inspired technological optimism we were cast into a world where we learned just how irrelevant we were. University was fun, post-university was fun too, but all the whiskey in the world (and we drank it all) only reminded us that…no, not us, just me. Probably some other people too. But at least me. All the whiskey in the world only reminded me that all that angst was a) correct and b) pointless. I’d like to think that the B-Bros were some kind of musical apotheosis, all screamy yet melodic, fun yet core, but eh, I just wanted to imagine myself screaming while I wore my colourful shirts.
I still wear colourful shirts. And here’s the end for the Brothers, at least for now, a band that long ago I really wanted to like because I wanted to like this girl, then actually liked by the time we (girl and I) barely knew each other, then forgot about for five years or so. It’s 2012 and I think the yelling is missing its home. This one’s from 2006, so I think it was still before YouTube and Facebook were ubiquitous (Timeline tells me I got FB in 2005 but I wasn’t really using it) so there wasn’t the whole “connected world” angst, nor the post-that revival of honesty. The time for this was on its way out. I had Arcade Fire, who needs ungrounded yelling when you’ve got being genuinely upset?
So this album is more melodic than it is screaming. The lead singer sounds as hilariously gay as ever, but he’s farther down in the mix. Everything sounds more mature than previous recordings; there’s less about idealistic love and fields of erections, though that’s out there in the ether. Unfortch, the aesthetic doesn’t work as well. At their heart, B-Bros were about teenage-style emotional release, and trying to write, you know, good songs, they’re in a bit too deep, and trying to split the difference is never as fun when it’s moshing drumbeats and jagged guitars you’re talking. The problem is that they always had a great melodic sense, here they’re pushing it harder out of aging (I’m losing my hair too, I know the temptation) or a longing for success. Probably the former. But it results in a subjugation of the hardcore elements, the parts that made their more difficult songs seem out of touch. It was like chasing rising balloons listening to earlier albums, here it’s like bending over to pick up deflated ones. Of course, that’s over the top. These are still solid songs. I’ll explain.
The album holds together for about half of its length on the base of disconnected, awesome efforts. “Set Fire to the Face on Fire” is the best combination of melody and -core (and really really fast drums in the chorus) here. It makes you want to burn things but you can also run to it. Neat! Single “Laser Life” is much the same, but with less flame. “Vital Beach” and “We Ride Skeletal Lightning” fill about the same gap in your life, combining nifty guitar riffs with hooks that yell at you until you feel slightly inferior. “Spit Shine Your Black Clouds” isn’t a particularly Blood Brothersy song; it sounds like a more aggressive Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Hot Chip song, but it’s solid. And that’s it, “man.” Shit’s broken up horribly with some misguided dub thing, they make a song from Glee for angry queers (I love you guys!), they try to reclaim past hardcore glory thrice (they’re artists in an ambulance?), they do the same once more but I wanted to make a silly joke, then there’s an actually decent Sandanista! impression, then there’s a closer that’s no “Devastator”, not in the least because it’s called “Giant Swan” and then it’s all over and I’ve described nearly every song in pithy detail.
At least to mine ears, the B-Bros were born of a world of confusion. And I don’t feel confused anymore. Still angsty and irresponsible, sure, but not in any doubt about what’s going on. So I can only get behind the anarchy when I feel like getting lost in the recent past. This isn’t a bad album; it just smells like getting high and complaining. with your third-year friends. And it sounds like a talented band that isn’t sure where to turn.