This is Bruiser and Bicycle’s second stab at an album and they have found something worth sticking to. Nick Whittemore and Keegan Graziane decided to make a change of tone and left their first albums, post-punk basement-core group with dark undertones and synesthetic lyrics, as they described it on their Promo Juke Box page. Now, they are pursuing an indie, psychedelic and eccentric writing style that keeps the album spicy and plain fun to listen to.
They burst out of the gates with a quintessential indie and energetic tone in “The Train,” which is broken up by odd vocals choices. As for as an intro goes, it’s definitely exciting but feels like a big tease. A huge build up, and then drop off. No big jumps or launches. But listen on and you’ll see it’s not their style.
“Casper” moves into their straightforward, folky roots and we begin to realize how their vocal style and tone separates this group from others. It’s not too deep in terms of production – we hear straightforward instrumentation, but also an omnidirectional and engaging sound. The duo showcases their lead guitar skills with a call and response from two very different voices. Static and distortion precedes a clean and spacious sound but both work over just the a-persistent, folksy guitar riff. It’s brilliant!
“Woods” is about as mainstream as the group gets. Without the electronic and quirky touches, we can see how well tuned into the music industry these two are. They know what works and they can recreate popular sounds but make it their own. That’s not a skills everyone has. However, we find ourselves on the other side of the spectrum with “Yonder” – it’s an acid trip compared to “Woods.” We get very trippy and lazy vocals, omnidirectional and experimental instrumentation and some guitar licks that are plain discomforting. Lets just say the chorus isn’t something you’ll be whistling along to at work.
“See Saw” is one of the best things about the album, how much fun it is to listen from beginning to end. It’s a roller coaster of ups and down, sudden turns and unexpected sounds. You’ll find yourself at the end of this song saying: how did it get here? There’s so many mood swings throughout each song and the entirety of the album for that matter. Their direction choices are intentional, not just changes for the sake of interest and keeping your attention. And that is no easy feat to accomplish seamlessly.
Their blend of psychedelic lyrics and relentless instrumentation is this band’s party trick with “Horns.” They leave little hints of this sound laced throughout the album as they do at the beginning of “Horns”. They trail off into a cooky march with more haphazard vocal progressions and push into a huge build up with a pulsing beat, layer after layer of instruments and another sudden drop into nothing. Not a trace of resolution nor a sense of closure.
As said before, this is just fun to listen to… even if the ending of the last track can be unsatisfying to some. This group should be admired for what two people during humbling beginnings can do. Not to mention that this groups prior album, which was released a year ago, sounds like it was released in 2010 by four completely different people. Indie music has been vastly popularized in the last decade and this group goes against the grain making unique album billowing with character and passion without making things to avant-garde. Bravo, Nick and Keegan.
The full album was released today, Friday, February 22 on all major streaming platforms.
Key Tracks: Woods, See Saw, Horns