The Brothers Burn is a group from Austin that recently released It Ain’t Art. Even after their story on their website I’m not exactly sure what the story is. Does anyone play an instrument in this band?
Their music is easy to listen to and after my first listen it felt like off-kilter lounge music. I said that as a compliment. It’s , hypnotic and rarely has any kind of focal point. I thought there were some enjoyable tunes but this isn’t in any way emotionally resonant music. It didn't pull on my emotional strings. I don’t say that in a bad way but the sounds they presented felt like ear candy and I think it serves best as an exploration of sound in the same way you might listen to Jon Cage or even Frank Zappa.
Some songs worked better than others. They open with “Don't Hold Back (feat. Panic Surfer)” which is a mild success. It begins with a distorted synth and programmed industrial sounding drums. There are vocals but they are sporadic and I wouldn't qualify it as singing.
It sounds more like a demon giving you words of encouragement. The demon voice repeats the words “Don’t Hold Back.” Up next is “Annabel Li” which has an ’80s Bell Biv Devoe type beat that comes layered with robotic vocal samples. It should be the soundtrack to the beginning of a psychedelic trip where everything becomes cartoonish and whimsical.
“Real Live Barbie” is the highlight. The song has a good hook which the previous songs to this point lacked. I was reminded of the producer Vitalic. The next highlight was “(Let Me Show You) How It's Done.” I liked the groove and thought the detuned vocals were catchy. There are more samples and tracks of that ’80s drum machine sound as the album progresses.
I like this duo’s sound but also think there are a couple of things they could do in the future to improve their sound. They manipulate vocal sounds on almost every track. I’d say about 50% of the time it doesn’t sound like a hook. I thought “Real Live Barbie” was an example of them at their best. The vocal adds to the song and really gives it an anchor. The songs rarely deviate in a significant way from the initial groove and while this works for some of the tracks I would have liked to hear them get a little more out of their comfort zone. Perhaps go full on experimental in an Oneohtrix Point Never kind of way.
I’m rooting for this duo and hope to hear some more soon. In the meantime this album presents us with a solid foundation they can evolve from.
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