Moneybrother - Real Control
Record Label: Bladen County
Release Date: April 13, 2010
There's something incredibly off-putting about an artist naming a song "Get Some Tonight," and hoping he can get away with it. Perhaps even more off-putting is trying to embrace music that champions such wanton behavior. But so it is, that Anders Wendin, a much-praised Swedish pop musician, tackles that very subject on his fifth album Real Control. Thankfully, he pursues far headier material on the album's remaining 10 tracks.
Wendin is at his best when he's self-effacing, like when he ruminates over self-destruction on "Just Another Part Of Me That Breaks Down," and self-introspection on the organ-infused "(Never Ever) I've Been Kissed." Stylistically, Real Control r veers towards a mash-up of reggae, disco and Afro-punk, with a couple glimmers of soul. One listen to "We Die Only Once," proves the Caribbean influence almost immediately, while "Just Another Part of Me That Breaks Down," sounds like The Police on speed.
The disc's sun-kissed numbers, notably album opener "Born Under a Bad Sign." the freewheeling "I Just Feel Like Hurting Somebody," and the snarky "Here Comes the Vain," reveal an infectious ability to buck the norm and do something a bit different. But at what point does bucking the norm get a bit too runny? When is the proverbial egg soaking the proverbial face? While the hipsters at Pitchfork headquarters, are probably chair-dancing to the joie de vivre of "Down at the R," does that mean its worth embracing?
More to the point, while Wendin has coined himself as a soul-oriented musician, he wears his punk influences far more visibly than his tender, wiser-than-his-years, bar-room balladry. The disc's only real soul moments, and the ones worth revisiting are the gorgeous, leave-it-all-on-the table ballad "6 AM," and the timeless closer "Showdown." The former is a crooning, self-careening slab at hand-clapping, show-stopping whimsy, while the latter is a full-scale ballad that draws on the classic blue-eyed soul framework but goes for the heartstrings from the very first second.
And yet as soaring as half of Real Control truly is, the disc also has its sour moments. The self-indulgent "Not That Old," is head-scratchingly horrific, while the aforementioned "Get Some Tonight," is downright pathetic. And yet, the charm of Moneybrother may be two simple things that have little to do with his sonic landscape. Foremost is Wendin's obvious proficiency at writing music. Having released five albums in seven years, he's clearly buzzing with creative ideas and/or hates spending time away from the studio. Either way, it's nice to have an artist constantly want to keep re-creating music and testing himself. That in and of itself is worthy of the highest accolades.
And then of course, there's the gnomic, fleeting sense of the entire affair. Not one song on Real Control labors past the four minute mark and none ever go places that are truly worth skipping over. Sure they might be reckless and disorientating but it's nothing to really throw out the window.
That very fact may keep Moneybrother on the radar until his next release, but he better step it up next time. Real Control is not nearly as good as many say it is.