Packaged in between different staples of what pop music is are The Brunettes. A twee pop duo consisting of Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield, they’ve always consistently offered up a delicious amount of head-nodding music. And while it isn’t entirely dramatic or for that matter experimental, it’s always been directly channeling. New Zealand has a few marketable artists floating around and for the last ten years now, The Brunettes have provided enough good feedback to go around.
Their newest go-around the merry-go-round, Paper Dolls, is another creation of understated production and subtle melodies. It’s sort of the anti-thesis of what you think of when you hear or read the word ‘pop.’ Depending on what your instincts or past experiences may dictate, most assume the word carries a big, booming precedence of pizzazz and glamour. And while Lady Gaga has done everything in her power to further destroy that image and turn it into the horrific music she creates, there’s still some good stuff just waiting to be noticed.
So no, The Brunettes aren’t flashy and they aren’t out to cut your throats. Instead, they’ve mastered the ability of turning dance-floor ready pop into the kind of bedroom experience you can get lost in. Paper Dolls is a neat and tidy extension of what their music is all about: personal, welcoming and most of all, warm. If the lulling sweetness of the title track isn’t enough to convince you then I don’t know what is. Bree and Mansfield’s voices cater to your every need, aptly tucking you in for a sweet, embracing sleep. And even better for them, it’s this depth that strikes a chord within, allowing for the shying grace of the rest of the music to take over.
Hiding away, behind a slippery drum machine and a sparkling line of synths is a winning melody, escaped inside of the piano. Bree’s vocals are muddied by a layering of tricks and it works wonders when Mansfield’s glittering double-tracking comes shining through. Counter verses, harmonies and even a counter melody to boost, this can all be accounted for on “Red Rollerskates.” Playful and lightly worded, Mansfield sings “take me anywhere” as she gets lost in what’s soon to be a memorable date for her and her partner.
There might be a few lost moments where the music stagnates from a lack of true skill where neither member of the pair does much but they come in sparring moments. And for the most part, the songs are too direct to even truly analyze them as anything more than lifting, carefree music. Sure, there will be the discussion as to whether it becomes dispensable because of the aforementioned but when it’s this young, you’d probably be best letting it grow on you before judging its shelf-life. It’s not an embellished sound and it’s not even far removed from their previous works but if it’s sugary pop that you like then you can’t go wrong with Paper Dolls.