Six years ago, when Phil Spector's "back to mono" slogan still had the power to provoke every would-be scenester from England to Portland into thinking they were all incarnations of Brian Wilson, Structure and Cosmetics might have made waves. These days however, with such a little pond already overflowing with very high profile fish, this Aukland New Zealand husband and wife team's third attempt at textured baroque pop comes across as nothing more than retro fetishism; A tepid rehash of sonic clichés and ironic lyrical piracy. Plus, it's downright dull to boot, which is unfortunate as, given my own ravenous lust to collect and listen to music of this very ilk, I was not just looking forward to this release, but was really hoping to like it.
Even the album's metro-indie chic cover design comes equipped with a strong been-there-done-that quality (think Ivy's Apartment Life, but with an arm in frame, self-taken, Facebook profile picture look added so as to avoid any charges of "photo shoot!" that might come hurling in from the indie peanut gallery). In fact, between the overwrought, Polyphonic Spree aping, female choir vocals of "Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth" (or, gag, B.A.B.Y), to the listless layering of instruments that achieves little sonic or melodic effect, there is an unavoidable feeling of hipster desperation to these tracks, as if, since signing to Sub Pop, The Brunettes feel the need to live up to some new in-crowd status. Like socialites vying for attention at the latest coming out party, The Brunettes seem to be trying to get attention by proving they're the best at being the same. But anyway, I'm sure that by reputation alone, and by continuing to keep the company of established groups like The Shins, The Brunettes are destined to win over many listeners and will be offering up their own brand of Sub(par)Pop for years to come.
I know you're dying to take a look at "Her Hairagami Set", so here you go.
Review by: Chris Webster
* * * * *
"Her Hairagami Set"