#2. BRONZE – BRONZE
Sometimes the winners take things too seriously.
Sometimes the ones who come out on top spend too much time worrying about how to get there to actually enjoy the ride.
Maybe first place isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Maybe BRONZE really do have more fun.
This little gem of an EP begins with a recording of Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders reading the beginning of the creation story over the mission control comlink as a quickly strummed drone and delayed guitar lead build slowly. With the words “Let there be light”, a churning and propulsive drumbeat launches the band into “Horses”, brimming with energy and euphoria, until the chorus breaks wide open with gossamer falsetto. Rinse, repeat, and revel in it.
The chorus of “Deep Freeze” seems manufactured solely for the purpose of boring into a listener’s brain before the song even ends. It was, in fact, this song that kept bringing me back to this EP, until every song had it’s own opportunity to sink the hooks in. The thing that sets “Deep Freeze” apart from your typical “Song of the Week” one-dimensional hook – and really sets the entire EP apart from some of the knee-jerk touchstones that might be tossed out on first listen – is the obvious attention to texture and arrangement. These songs are layered and well orchestrated, crafting a space and tone inhabited deftly by singer Charlie Davis’ chameleon vocals (or perhaps he shares vocal duties with bandmate Ian Menard?), which come back and entice over and over, each time in a different way.
It was “Sunny Day”, the most atmospheric of the EP’s cuts, that kept recalling another band which, for the life of me, I couldn’t place. Finally, after replaying it obsessively, it clicked. The song would have fit seamlessly into Wheat’s catalog – either their 1999 criminally underrated album, Hope and Adams*, or their more poppy follow up, Per Second, Per Second, Per Second… Every Second. Identifying this similarity was what ultimately made me appreciate the space that BRONZE creates here, as it was that same ability to shroud a pop song an ethereal sonic environment without losing the musical immediacy that made me fall in love with Wheat in the first place. That BRONZE is able to do this with songs that beg for bedroom dancing is an even more notable achievement.
“Count to Two” busts up the brief serenity with a wild, hip-thrusting eruption, sounding like the Marc Bolan-fronted Stooges side project that never happened. And you thought the party was over. A final howl decays into echo, until the EP’s last track, “Sara Lisa” arrives with a hydraulic drum break a la Dismemberment Plan’s “Time Bomb”. Bombast ensues, folding into a cooled out groove under the vocals, equal parts preening and plaintive and recalling another of my favorites, Jonathan Visger of Michigan’s Mason Proper (more about him later in the album countdown!).
Debut EP’s are hard to evaluate, as it’s easy to hyperventilate over the potential offered by a solid and concise package from a new outfit, and the baseball fan in me is wary to churn up too much hype and too many expectations for what is more or less a musical “prospect”. Flukes happen. Flops happens. A great EP doesn’t guarantee a long and illustrious career by a long shot. But the good news for BRONZE is that this ain’t their first rodeo. The band was borne from the ashes of the angular post-punk outfit Detachment Kit, which had their own day in the sun. Hopefully the experience leaves BRONZE poised to make the most of a strong debut and, in the long run, enjoy a career that realizes the promise of their “prospect status”.
Available FOR FREE on Bandcamp (so really, what’s your excuse?)
RIYL: The Detachment Kit, Mason Proper, The Rapture, The Hibernauts
*In a weird twist, considering yesterday’s post about Robyn’s Body Talk Pt. 1&2 EPs, Wheat’s Hope and Adams actually has two tracks entitled “Body Talk Pt. 1” and “Body Talk Pt. 2”. Weird.