hen walking down the street Sam Endicott is a man who rarely, if ever, gets recognized. Classically handsome with hip accoutrements, he is merely one among many in one of the most fashionable cities in the world. With the release of The Bravery's debut record on Island Records that just might change. As the leader of New York's newest "it" band, he's set to be featured in numerous magazines sporting the faux-hawk that nearly overshadows the group's energetic New Wave-influenced dance rock.
Indeed, while Endicott points towards the Clash, the Stones, and the Ramones as his steady diet of music growing up, the group's sound more accurately echoes some of the greatest bands of the 80s: New Order, the Smiths, and Duran Duran. But before you go running around screaming electroclash, fear not! The band steers far clear of the image-is-everything ethos that informed those acts: this is clearly a band just as intent on making textures as it is on making you dance.
On first single and album opener "An Honest Mistake," the band comes out of the gates firing with New Order synths and bass, Blondie drums, and a raging guitar that seems intent on proving its worth. It adds up to an addictive song that should easily move even the most crossed-arms hipster to shake their thing. The group smartly follows it up with "No Brakes" that mixes up the ingredients a bit, but comes out at the end with the same equation: the Killers with a more showy guitar player.
The group again hits their stride on "Tyrant Mouth," which adds a slightly avant-garde production job and an emotional timbre that was lacking in the album's opening salvo. The tempo is slower, but no less insistent, as Endicott switches up his vocal meter and rhythm to great effect throughout. It's here that Endicott's vocals first make their mark: in the chorus his voice soars and strains to match the rising chords in their sentimentality.
The rest of the album continues on in much the same way: synthesizers take the lead, guitars race behind and add texture and rhythm, while the bass and drums keep the pace in the background content to act as anchor. And Endicott rarely shys away from his patented croon that reminds one of Robert Smith or Julian Casablancas at times. Commercially and aesthetically, all of the above is a big plus.
Unfortunately, it doesn't change the fact that this record is completely forgettable.
Reviewed by: Sarah Kahrl
Reviewed on: 2005-03-31