Brigades Like This – s/t

From the first few chords of Brigades Like This’s self-titled six-song offering, you’re led to expect an Interpol-like undertaking. Suddenly you’re thrust into a Panoply-Academy system of note choice, rhythm changes, and vocalizations. “Your Voice,” appropriately enough, draws your attention to the vocalizations as much as anything. The singing doesn’t sound like it fits with the song. It sounds like it was tacked on after the band came up with the rest of the song and, melodically, it’s not exactly congruent with the goings-on. So, OK, you learn pretty quickly that this band is not afraid to experiment a little or, less charitably, isn’t afraid to sound, ummm, kinda wrong.

While the song formulae vary, they often feature the let’s-be-loud chorus to contrast with the comparatively subdued verses, as exemplified on “Breath.” And therefore it’s not a surprise when the band gets all GYBE on the 10-minute “Peaks and Valleys” or the similarly long “The Last Song.” Loud, reverbed guitars and crashing drums have become something of a shopworn trope for this kind of thing, and I have to say that I was expecting a little more from Brigades Like This. Why not subvert the form and surprise us a little, as “Your Voice” does? The world might not be patient enough for any more Come On Die Young tracks, especially after Mogwai set the bar so high and did so a long time back.

“Slide Away” does capture a little of the Verve’s sound from when that band had a song of the same name. And I was happy to find that the song also reminded me of the long-lost brilliance of the band Variac. But it builds so slowly that you may check your watch along the way.

I know that some or even most listeners will find the singing too off-putting to continue with this disc, and that aspect of the band’s sound does limit its appeal. It would probably have to be an acquired taste for even the most open minded. This release comes off as a band that is still deciding on its direction, still feeling its way, but capable of something better than how it represents itself here.