Since the emergence of the Strokes in 2001, the music media has focused its intense gaze on New York City in hopes of finding the next big thing. Each corresponding year has produced at least one more great act, from Interpol to the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s to the Rapture to The Walkmen to TV on the Radio, with the hypsters proclaiming that each band would launch another grand scene. Those bands, however, were part of the original scene that the Strokes grew out of in the first place. Inevitably, time would come when the creative well would run dry.
The Bravery formed in 2003 and where the talk of town and its copious amount of A&R men almost immediately. After a bidding war, the stylish creeps signed to Island in 2004, who rushed out an e.p. earlier this year to whet appetites for this full length. The album’s opening track, “Honest Mistake,” follows the neu-wave formula that has been all the rage these last few months and lays the groundwork for what appears on the debut. Built around a drum and synth line left over from the Power, Corruption, Lies album sessions, it has one of the catchiest choruses in some time, and gets the album off on a strong foot.
The comparisons between the Bravery and the Killers are about as apt as any band that references the same era in music, which is to say they aren’t. At least not as much as any group that grew up with Duran Duran and Cars albums in their collections. There is more a rock edge to the Bravery, forgoing the Killer’s stylish pop for post-punk directness. Michael [Zakarian, guitar]’ s solos are more technically proficient (notably on “Unconditional”) than anything displayed on Hot Stuff. The Bravery assimilates the sounds around them well. “Public Service Announcement” answers the question of what a Rapture bass line with a Strokes guitar strum would sound like. The song also has the dumbest lyric this year with “you put the art/in retarded.”
Like his band, vocalist Sam Endicott (sporting what looks like a grown-out devil lock) conjures many stylistic influences, past and present.. From Bono (“Unconditional”) to Lou Reed (“No Ring on These Fingers”), to Hot Hot Heat’s Steve Bays (“Tyrant”), he is a vocal chameleon who fits within the framework of each song nicely. “Open Heart Surgery,” a slow dirge featuring practically no electronics, even has Endicott capturing early Bunnymen-era Ian McCulloch to great effect. The song stands out, not only for its departure from everything else on the Bravery (which goes down the same paths as their singles demonstrate), but as a promising avenue the group could go on future releases.