Sometimes I can’t remember things I did five minutes beforehand. I often find myself slogging back up three flights of stairs to check and make sure I locked my apartment door, and then unlocking it and walking in to make sure I shut off the burner on the stovetop. I don’t have Alzheimer’s, at least I don’t think I do, it’s just that when I do something so repetitive that memory doesn’t often register, and so I find myself having to double check it, just to make sure. But there are certain memories I will never forget, no matter what.
The one that caused the proceeding long-windedness is the first time I told anyone I wanted to be a writer. I was a freshman in college and it was my older brother who I told this secret to. He said come with me, and we drove downtown to this old used bookstore; a hoarders wet dream; three floors of water stained walls, floor to ceiling shelves packed with books, yellowed newspapers in haphazardly stacked piles, creaky wooden floors and John Wayne Gacy looking alcoves crammed with different types of genre fiction. There was even a separate section of old nudie mags with a sign that read Please ask before browsing. It was in this store that my brother told me straight up “There’s a lot of competition out there.” And just like that my parade was pissed on. Suddenly I wanted to be anything but a writer.
This memory was jolted back into existence for me after reading the bio of Brooklyn electro-folk-pop trio Bredahl (pronounced bray-doll). One word: Brooklyn. I’m no slouch. I know about Brooklyn. Brooklyn is to bands what the used bookstore is to writers. Brooklyn swallows up bands like the whale did to Jonah. And though Bredahl may be one of countless bands adrift in that borough bourgeoning with talent, principal singer/songwriter Nik Lokensgaard along with his cohorts Matt Cusack on bass, guitar, synths and vocals, and Justin Hofmann on drums, synths and vocals hold their own on their wonderfully versatile debut EP Traces.
Traces traces patterns of evolution through its five songs. The opener “Wearing Down” is a heartfelt sleight of hand love song that hooks you in with its combination of unhurried, ebullient ‘80s synths, dreamy vocals and slow jingle jangle guitar peels, which reminded me of a stripped down version of The Cure’s “Love Song” in the way it beautifully dragged itself along.
Likewise “When It Goes Your Way” has that prickly guitar build that teases you, threatening to blow up and get loud, but it doesn’t. Instead it just stops and moves into a denouement that most bands couldn’t pull off but Bredahl pulls it off with sly middle finger majesty. As if that wasn’t enough Bredahl switches gears and shows off their songwriting range with the alt country “Just Play the Part” on which they play two part harmonies reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel.
The title track “Traces” is a hand clap happy synth-imbibed retrospective on love that transmutes into a garage-y rock pop jam session and flows into the album’s synth heavy closer “Never Going to Get it Right,” which sounds like a mash up of Talking Heads and The Postal Service and ends with stereotypical “tape reaching its end” whirr.
Traces lives up to its name in that Bredahl provides hints of the sound that they are going after, though it seems a stepping-stone. They seem to want to fit complexity into less than three minutes which doesn’t really happen when you have a band with two people who play synths and backing vocal harmonies. These dudes set up the potential to jam yet they never do. Sure less is more but more is also more. Rock that shit out dudes. I’ve got faith in you.
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