Brazil – The New Loud

Brazil
The New Loud

I really wanted to like Brazil. Their disc is called The New Loud, which is cocky but sort of cool when a band can back it up. In their promo picture, the singer is wearing a Damn Personals t-shirt, and I’ve heard that they’re a good band. And their disc only has six songs, which means they prefer brief introductions. I was really put off by it, though, and that was pretty disappointing. In fact, I had to pop the disc out and make sure I hadn’t gotten it mixed up with another band’s.
The opening notes to “Monolithic” sound like they’re straight out of a science fiction film. The album is filled with soaring guitars and some of the most annoying keyboard sounds I’ve heard since high school. And the worst part is that it never really stops. Virtually every spot in every song is filled by something, and odd time signatures feel like they’re thrown in for the hell of it. Some of the moves are unintentionally hilarious, particularly the end of “Saturn Parkway.” It all feels very synthetic and too often the over-used effects and self-conscious playing bury the substance of the songs.
When things are kept simple they work the best. Like when Jonathon, the singer, stretches out the syllables of radio to get “Ray-de-oh.” It’s a little cliché, but hey, it works. “Erasure” is the closest the album comes to having all the band’s ideas coalesce. Here Jonathon sounds a bit like Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse. It could do without the breakdown section in the middle, but more than any of the other songs, it holds your attention throughout. Disregarding a lot of the other missteps on the album and using this song as a starting point, Brazil could develop some strong material. They certainly seem passionate enough about what they’re doing.
Thematically, they seem to explore some of the same ideas that Radiohead explored on “OK Computer”, including modern alienation and the dehumanizing effects of machinery. That album oozed with anxiety, though, and too many bands that look up to it can copy its pose but not its core. Not that Brazil is trying to ride the Radiohead bandwagon. They do, however, try to mix indie-rock sentiment with arty pretentiousness in a way that Radiohead can pull off and they can’t. My guess would be that they are all still pretty young, so if they can avoid some of their own worst art-rock impulses in the future they’ll develop fine. People who like the Cancer Conspiracy and Karate will probably like this disc as well, so I don’t mean to imply that all is lost. Brazil sounds like they have a lot of honest passion and playing ability, they just really need to be vigilant of avoiding Dream Theatre-sized cliches and start listening to a lot more Lou Reed.