The Brobecks - Violent Things
Release Date: May 14, 2009
Record Label: Unsigned
As I sit here by candle (and laptop) light and construct this review, I'm hit by an eerie feeling of belonging. The Brobecks', or, put more simply, Dallon Weekes' latest album, Violent Things just seems to fit in this dramatic setting. Of course, Violent Things seems to be akin to a chameleon, an album that matches the mood, whatever that mood may be. While it's certainly great in this moody setting, I have no issue blasting this from my car windows while I tread through the last few windows-down days of the summer. Violent Things, though certainly swimming around in a genre that's normally a shallow pool, tends to dip into much more intelligent water at times.
The Brobecks, Dallon Weekes' (now of Panic! At the Disco) nearly solo project, is a fusion of orchestra and pop. The tracks have lush backing, with Weekes pulling in a number of his friends to provide instrumentation (including an ambitious figure we all know from The Dear Hunter). Weekes obviously has a preference towards fuzzy synth lines and full-bodied drums, which he makes evident throughout nearly every track. For this genre, it's strange to see the pressure being taken off the guitars, but alas, it is. These cuts are crafted out of quirky fusions of percussion, bass and an ever-lively synth in addition to varied instruments (such as horns and strings) brought in throughout the course of the album. The guitars are there, but I challenge you to follow them amongst the theatrical styling of the other instruments. Weekes' orchestration, however, is not where the album sways towards it's darker side; the instrumentation is nearly always lively and full, never meandering into a slow or droning pace. Despite this, it's Weekes' vocals and lyrics themselves that draw Violent Things towards its much more, dare I say it, violent side. His lyrics, normally somewhat quirky and, a little less often, cynical, are often rather endearing, despite a few squabbles (such as the line "I've told you fifteen dozen times/ and that's one-hundred-eighty times" that appears in "Goodnight Socialite").
Weekes' enters into the discord of the albums opener"Goodnight Socialite" with a Vaudevillian swagger normally reserved for the villains of Tim Burton movies. That raises an important point, and that point is: Violent Things plays, largely, like some form of play. While the songs don't fit together like, say, your prized Razia's Shadow, the opening lyrics, along with the common theme throughout the album paint this story of a relationship, and seemingly mischievious damsel, as a drama that navigates both ups and downs of a narrative. Throughout the first couple tracks, Weekes keeps his edgy persona alive, dropping lines like "I've got your knife inside my back,/ I've got your rope around my neck" in "Goodnight Socialite," and "Everybody knows, and I've said it before./ She takes off her clothes/ shakes me like I've not shaken before" in "If You Like It or Not." In favor of the charming tackiness of "Love At First Sight," the edginess is dropped for an eagerness that conveys infatuation behind lyrics like "Turn the lights off/ I'm in love./Wouldn't you like to, wouldn't you like to/ kiss her?" Seemingly simple, throughout the course of the album and the excellent (albeit sometimes simple) soundscapes that Weekes sets up, they fit perfectly. Continuing onward, we delve further into Weekes' mind with a number that, while on the surface is seemingly bubbly pop, manages to convey much more scathing lyrics. Comparing a girl to a dress (they're "beautiful, so smart, and no good" for him), he manages to squash in a little insecurity and social comment (and in this way, it's also much like the A+ track "Second Boys Will Be First Choice"). Traversing through the next third of the album, both the tracks "All of the Drugs" and "Bike Ride," while continuing to further disrobe his fatal partner, both fall short of the mean on Violent Things and are largely forgettable. "Small Cuts" gets the ball rolling again, and "The Nerve" just increases inertia (and sounds quite a bit like The Bravery, circa The Sun and the Moon). "I Will, Tonight," like "Bike Ride," is oddly produced differently than the rest of the album, and the two of them seem like older demos that were simply tacked onto the album last minute. "Le Velo Pour Deux" picks up the album's mood again before the nearly 7-minute "Boring" takes the album to previously uncharted territory and it serves as a pretty great closer despite the fairly monotonous lyrics.
Violent Things, to some, will be just another pop album to decorate the shelf between their beloved House of Heroes and Panic! albums. However, those that pay close enough attention and examine the detail that went into the crafting of this album will realize that it is, in fact, both fun and intelligent. Certain lyrical squabbles and cliches aside, Weekes' writing on this album is above and beyond most of his peers, and the instrumentation brought to the table by himself and his guest musicians provide excellent arrangements that most pop bands forego in favor of accessibility. Give The Brobecks a chance, and Violent Things might just catch you by surprise.
I agree that this is an album for all occasions. I especially love Dallon's lyrics... they remind me of the quirky satire that Ludo has in their songs. And yeah, it fits right in with Panic!s Fever, or Ludo's albums too.
wait a second, your burnt album is different. the release on iTunes has second boys will be first choice (single version,) which is identical to the one released on the Small Cuts EP with slightly cleaned up production. is yours the actual awesome album version produced by casey with the heavy orchestration? if so, I am mega jealous.
edit: I found this version after intensive googling (read - looking through every last page on google that mentions The Brobecks for half an hour). All Brobecks fans need to cop this shit. Right now.
edit2: Inserted this mp3 into my album, sounds a little unmastered compared to the rest of the CD, but I'm down with that, just a little nitpicking. just hope this will be available on physical copies.