An Honest Mistake
When the Bravery followed its ballyhooed South by Southwest appearance with the release of its debut disc, the backlash began. Wise witnesses saw hacks cashing in on a hip sound. But the group's detractors were so vitriolic that some misguided souls made appeals on the band's behalf, creating Bravery-backlash backlash. To give the group due process, we carefully considered the charges against these defendants.
Charge: Bravery vocalist Sam Endicott stands accused of shameless sandbagging.
Evidence: Endicott did time in a group called Skabba the Hut, where he sported blond dreadlocks, used the stage name "Chewskacca" and coined the tagline "Bust a Nut with Skabba the Hut." Assuming his newfound affection for '80s sounds is genuine (debatable, given its emergence at the peak of the retro movement's popularity), Endicott could have formed a geeky sci-fi outfit such as Aquabats or Epoxies without inciting ire. But there really is nothing more unfathomably lame than a horny, Star Wars-obsessed ska band.
In his defense: Endicott mercifully sat out the nü-metal movement.
Charge: The Bravery remains entangled in a ridiculous rivalry with the Killers.
Evidence: Apparently, the music world isn't big enough for two fashionable-yet-fetid keyboard-powered groups. The Killers' Brandon Flowers griped to MTV that the Bravery rode his coattails to success, adding, "People will see through them." Endicott sniped back, telling a San Francisco radio station, "I feel bad talking about him because it's like hitting a girl."
In the band's defense: If these two groups stage a battle -- with the loser agreeing to retirement -- and somehow duel their way to mutual destruction, they'll save the world from a future fraught with abysmal trend-hopping albums.
Charge: The Bravery's music sucks. Seriously, it could pull a cherry from the bottom of a whiskey sour through a straw.
Evidence: Even though it merges elements of ABC, Dead Can Dance and Mooney Suzuki, the Bravery incorporates an almost impressive array of aural atrocities: soul-bereft disco high-hats, squealing solo-studded rawk and an amalgam of frilly ambiance and fey grooves that begs the phrase "New-Age-wave."
In the band's defense: There's some decent drumming on the record, though with two members credited with "programming" in the liner notes, it's hard to tell which percussive parts came from a keyboard.
Charge: The Bravery's lyrics make its music look masterful.
Evidence: Endicott's lyrics range from idiotic to banal, without an inspired exception. The following lines are his worst: "You put the broke in broken-hearted/You put the art in retarted [sic]."
In the band's defense: During the apologetically titled "An Honest Mistake," Endicott murmurs, "Sometimes I forget I'm still awake/I fuck up and say these things out loud." He's citing the Prince precedent ("I was dreaming when I wrote this"), apparently forgetting that this excuse remained valid only until the close of 1999.
Verdict: We find the band guilty on all counts. To paraphrase The Simpsons' road-raging judge, we sentence the Bravery to kiss our ass.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.