Brenda – Silver Tower

Brenda – Silver Tower

It’s probably, more than likely, safe to say that the scope Pavement reached with their tenure as a band – five albums and all – is one of great significance. I mean, just look at the music that preceded them and what has come out since then. To this day, bands still insist on making lo-fi recordings because it obviously worked before. On the other side of the coin, bands have also taken to the richness of tight melodies and sing-along lyrics with strong, guitar-based rock. Nothing too flashy and nothing too daring but all the while enjoyable.

And though it’s easy to tread on such waters, in the best sense that it’s been done before and to near-perfection mind you, it comes with inevitable pitfalls too. Brenda’s debut as an indie rock band from Maine is filled with the kind of music you’d most likely enjoy on the typical alternative radio rock of the 90s but with a contemporary feel. Silver Tower is an album wound at the seams with sweltering guitars, an album that is unafraid of reaching into the melting jam sense, while still maintaining a hold for their songs’ linear movements and mostly, it seems to be a decent cause for a change.

As much as it tends to try and veer of the angular rock scene that it’s drawing from, Brenda’s music is also a tad too same-y for its own good. “Retina” captures a movement in sound where it all seems to just float together – receding hi-hat and reverb-soaked keyboards and all – but on that same note, it all seems to just melt away together. These moments seem stale and unmemorable, and yet there are songs like “Shaililai” that simply take over. The latter’s shining melody and driving bass line allows for a smooth blend of catchy rock that fully suits what Malkmus had done before them – it’s here that the homage is most felt.

But in the purest sense, the straight-up pop that infiltrates Silver Tower is neither too offensive and neither too bland to entirely dismiss. There is a lot of skill flitting about and while Brenda still has time to fill the space with more creativity, there is enough here to build on. Many of the songs transition into rocking improvisational moments where the trio is called upon to jam out, counter each other and many times, explore new realms of the music.

These, like the ending of “ Blackout,” are the album’s strongest highlights and it leaves plenty to be desired. And with the ensuing “Delegator,” it makes perfect sense why Jeff Tweedy has been so high on Brenda’s music. In the end, Silver Tower is a fine debut, a modest one that knows its boundaries and limits – now it’s time to expand on them.

Mckeen Street Music