The Bravery – The Sun and the Moon
Record Label – Island Records
Release Date – 22 May 2007
I didn’t want to like the first Bravery record. I really didn’t. When it came out, my mind was already numb from all the Killers and Franz Ferdinand tracks being crammed into my skull. I wanted to hate them. But dammit if that video with those stupid dominoes and that robot wasn’t cool. And dammit if the song wasn't kinda catchy, too. But I still wasn’t prepared to give them a proper chance.
Then their songs started popping up everywhere. On MTV. On the radio. In movies (“Fearless” was on the NightWatch soundtrack). In video games (MVP 2005 – “Honest Mistake” again). There was just no getting away from them. I almost had to like them, or else I’d go crazy. So I made the easy choice: I gave in. I knew I’d take my lumps from the hipster crowd, but I bought the CD and lost myself in their cheesy-catchy brand of electro indie-pop. I figured me and The Bravery were square.
But then they had to go and release another album. Not wanting to find myself in the same quandary as before, I just sucked it up and down—I mean, bought the album, The Sun and the Moon. I knew there was no way I’d like it as much as the first album. I was so sure of this, I let it rot on my hard drive... I mean my CD shelf for a solid month before I even gave it a token listen. There was no way I’d fall for their wiles again, right?
In a word: wrong. I fell for it hook, line and sinker from the opening track. After an intro that just oozes smoothness, “Believe” kicks off with a supercool riff that will have your head bopping before you even know what hit you. Add a snazzy synth line, snappy drums and Sam Endicott’s eager crooning, and you’ve got yourself the perfect song to jam to at the park or the beach – somewhere where there’s sun anyway, because The Sun and the Moon is the perfect summer album.
I tried to deny this. I really did. But the songs are just too energetic, the synth lines just too bouncy, the whole thing just so deliciously ironic that it’s impossible to resist. From the “whoa-oh-oh”-filled “Every Word Is A Knife In My Ear” to the “ba-ba-ba-ba” simplicity of “Angelina” to the whistling on “Bad Sun” that would make Andy Griffith proud, the album is packed full of enough whimsy and panache to get even the most hermetic of emo kids out of the house for the afternoon.
Not to say the whole thing is sunshine and rainbows. Lead single “Time Won’t Let Me Go” is a hangdog ballad with a melancholy hook and downbeat percussion. The boys unplug their guitars and turn off the synth for “Tragedy Bound” and “The Ocean” – both also featuring backing from a neat-o string section. The former takes the tone of a She Wants Revenge song – a down-on-her-luck girl, “All her life, she’s bound to lose,” only not, you know, boring as fuck – while the latter is a fairly standard end-of-album slow jam.
Just as comparisons to The Killers were inevitable with their first release, they hound the band this time as well, albeit in a different manner. While not everyone thought it was for the better, no one could argue that The Killers didn’t change their sound for Sam’s Town. However, The Bravery have seemingly taken a step sideways here. One could argue that the tracks lack the darker edge (a la Depeche Mode – get it??) that shaped their first release, but the same aesthetic is there – taut melodies, compact verses, and slick choruses. But, while nobody’s gonna say that The Bravery are even half the musicians that The Killers are, I would argue that The Sun and the Moon is a much tighter album than Sam’s Town. There are no clear misses, and each track flows perfectly into the next – the band owes a debt to Brendan O’Brien’s crisp production.
Say what you will about Sam Endicott’s eyeliner and emo-gone-80s haircut, but you can’t deny that The Bravery makes fun music. Maybe people won’t still be talking about their music in 20 (or even 10) years, but it makes you nod your head and tap your foot right now. If The Killers are The Beatles, then these guys are The Monkees – almost embarrassingly poppy, but absolutely unabashed about it. Given that, The Sun and the Moon is a damn fun album. Do yourself a favor – step out of your hipster pants, into a swimsuit, and get out into the sun. If only for a few hours.
good review. you use good descriptors to illustrate parts and feelings in songs... overall very good review. the killers/beatles-bravery/monkees thing tho... i get it, and i understand you weren't making the allusion that the killer are as good as the beatles... i dunno, it made me have to read the sentance again, whereas the rest of the review flowed very well. good job.
that being said... i really think the bravery missed their prime with this one. The OC is over, and that's the real problem with this record. I don't see it having much appeal outside of the OC-viewing audience, who could've been turned onto the band via a well placed section of 'believe' in an episode... and because that advertising is no longer available, i can't see this cd selling well, or being very well liked. I don't like it, personally... it just reminds me of a watered down, single-artist version of an OC soundtrack.