The Brute Chorus has interesting lyrical inspirations. Rather than discuss anarchic rebellion, sex, drinking or any other clichéd subjects, they favor Biblical stories, nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Fusing this with a sound of garage, blues and folk, their sophomore LP, How The Caged Bird Sings, has a retro rock feel and some enticing moments. But, at the same time, a lot of it sounds too much alike, and almost all of it feels like merely bonus tracks.
Formed in 2008, the quartet of James Steel, Nick Foots, Dave Ferrett, and Matthew Day cite plenty of classic 60s and 70s bands as influences, including The Animals, CCR, The Fleshtones and The Jam. Add to that the modern touch of The Killers and Sloan and you’ve got an idea of their sound.
One of the best aspects about How The Caged Bird Sings is how well the tracks flow together. While there aren’t segues, it’s an album that seems to drift along as if on a calm river; it’s easy to get lost in it. The opening track, “Lazarus,” is quite epic for such a short duration; there are a lot of dynamical changes and some folkloric production. Its follow-up, the single “Could This Be Love?” has that great danceable Englishness of The Last Shadow Puppets or The Dark Romantics.
“Starlings” has a prophetic quality with the coolness of the vocals, the repetitive lyrics (in a good way) and the interruptions of distorted guitar. The lamentation of “Wife” builds slowly but smoothly, with an upright bass sound and quietness. It’s a case where the space in the music fills in the emotional holes.
Another tale of sorrow comes with “Red Blood,” which is highlighted by glimpses of electric piano and carefully chosen syncopation. Both elements add the essence to the track. “Birdman” is sung like a hybrid of Elvis Presley and Robert Plant. It’s a silly song that, hopefully, isn’t intended to be taken as anything more. Finally, the album closer, “Heaven,” well, closes the album.
While The Brute Chorus creates some interesting sounds with a touch inventiveness, there’s nothing really memorable here. It’s all rather sparse and feels more like demos or a B-side collection. There are many other bands today that approach the same style, but they put a lot more into their music, and so The Brute Chorus falls behind. The band definitely as the potential to release a great album if they focus more on grabbing listener’s attention with melodies and fuller production – let’s hope their third release does that.