the Brutals reviews

Old school jangle pop from appealing Melbourne band.

Suitably released on Valentine's Day (awwww!), the Brutals' new album The Honeymoon Period is full of music with a romantic notion of indie pop, recalling the 80s approach to the genre when underground bands truly marched to the beat of their own drums, ignoring fashionable trends in image or production. Thus, the Brutals‚ record possesses the warm sparseness of early REM or Lemonheads, making the indie label Half A Cow their perfect home. This label was known for the 90s fuzz pop of bands like Smudge and Godstar, and in recent years has been responsible for reissuing buried treasure from the vaults of 60s Australian garage rock. So, the jangling revisionism of the Brutals is surrounded by thoroughly appropriate company. From the rousing, sunshine chords of 'Goldilocks' and the gentle Grant McLennan-esque folksiness of 'Jeneane Jeneane' to the Sweetheart Of The Rodeo melancholy of 'Jack Frost', this is one honeymoon you won‚t mind extending.
- **** Matt Thrower, Rave Magazine Brisbane

the Brutals have been kicking around stages in Melbourne for a few years with many people wondering when they'd actually do something. Well, they've put down their bongs long enough to finally record an LP and it's a corker. Blissful jangling guitars, amazing harmonies and winsome catchy pop recall Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Buffalo Springfield, Love and the Beach Boys. Judging by the hordes of young girls we've seen at recent shows of theirs lately, expect them to blow up big time this year with the imminent release of their Honeymoon Period album.
- Hot Australian Artists 2010 tonedeaf.com.au

I'm obliged to begin by saying that guitar-pop albums, especially those jangly, antipodean-sounding ones, are a crippling weakness of mine. My critical Achilles Heel. When I hear mid-tempo guitars, laid-back vocals and roomy drums, I can't help but feel good. OK? So, The Honeymoon Period is that kind of album. It's also the Brutals' debut. You can hear the influence of The Go-Betweens and Pavement, making things bright and weird. There are touches of country, even fiddle (on 'Walkabout', for instance), and it all fits together nicely. The other sound I hear on this record is the dueling guitars of Teenage Fanclub. In fact, the Brutals do the three-singer harmonising act too. Lyrically, it's fascinating, off-kilter stuff, strange observations on elusive personal subjects. There's even a bit of a vernacular voice on it, although I'm hard pressed to say where, and it might just be the sound of acoustic guitars messing with my head. It's sunny, charming, indie pop music, and it's a very good album. But the impression that I get, an impression that transcends the album's charms, is that the Brutals are a good band, the kind of band I would now pay cash money to see if they came up from Melbourne. A not so subtle hint.
- **** Sam Mogninie www.altmedia.net.au

This has come along a wee bit late for me to call it "the album of the summer", which is a shame, because it would have been ideal. Ten tracks of odd, shimmering, country-infused pop, full of naive charm and killer hooks. I was lucky enough to catch them live at 'Applecore' recently, and that was even better. Still, this will do to get you through the autumn, at least. Released on the resurgent Half A Cow Records, too, by the way.
- TJ Honeysuckle lasttramhome.blogspot.com

'Goldilocks/Walkabout' single
Don't let the name fool you, they're as soft and sunny as a sack full of kittens. This Melbourne quartet favour folk pop and rhyming couplets, bouncing melodies and lush harmonies. Their lyrics are simple but slightly oddball, which is interesting. Sonically, their influences run between Teenage Fanclub and Pavement, and they wear them well. The Honeymoon Period, the Brutals debut album, comes out this week.
- Singles by Simone, Beat magazine

The tunes on this - the first and very likely only Brutals record ever - were recorded over a strange period of time two or three years back when the band was an erratically functioning live unit that emerged from the ashes of Melbourne pop outfit the Treetops. The cover art is a map of singer Ben Montero's beloved inner-north Melbourne. Apparently it was originally going to be marked with the location of memorable drug deals, but that idea was dropped for obvious reasons. That said, there's a distinct air of turning off your mind to relax and float downstream here. The album jangles like a pair of cheap earrings, or perhaps a pair of rhinestone crusted spurs? There's a fair dash of late-60s West Coast country rock to be found here too. Most songs are led by the twin voices of Montero and Emmett Smith - often together, sometimes separate, but it's hard to tell them apart. Opening track 'Dead Seaman' moves from comfortable nonsense ("I live in an apple core/I'm pushing all the buttons just to find your floor") to something much bleaker ("What could be worse than being buried alone for all eternity?"). Track three 'Jeneane Jeneane' starts beautifully, tinkling along with gentle and direct lyrics that perfectly complement its ace homemade video, while the verse/chorus switch in 'Runaway Hands' is a perfect example of how everything on this album seems finely, but effortlessly crafted. Sometimes, however, you'd wish they'd take a leaf from the Bacharach handbook and really go for it. While the added mandolin and piano on 'Goldilocks', are nice touches, there's still the niggling feeling that a massive choir and a soaring key change would take the song to even greater heights. Catching them live would be a good adjunct to this disc, but it's not essential. This record will outlast the band by a long chalk.
- Trevor Block, Mess & Noise

Ben Montero and Emmett Smith toured the country with their band Treetops before the outfit disbanded as quietly as it begun. But the duo remained in contact and it wasn't too long before acoustic guitars were again taken out of their cases and late night sessions without much intent led to songs being written, and eventually recorded.

Sporadic gigs followed and, finally, the Honeymoon Period was captured. 'Dead Seaman' isn't that far removed from the songwriting partners' previous band as swirling guitars and tight harmonies are the main entertainment. 'Goldilocks' has a likeable Britpop-styled melody with a laconic Aussie delivery. Like many of the tunes surrounding it, you'll be sure to have this one bouncing around your head for days.

All pop bases are covered as songs like 'Pizza Heaven' and 'Top o The Town' - songs in the vein of those kicked around by Nic Dalton and Tom Morgan in the Nineties. 'Led Legz' has a faux-country feel and 'Walkabout' tips its hat to The Replacements. They may not be a 'name' act, but The Brutals aren't lacking in quality.

Rarely has a band's sound been so mismatched with its name. The Brutals are anything but fierce - more a sweet, sweet delight.
- Chris Havercroft, X-Press magazine, Perth