Monday, March 8th, 2010
Gimme The Wire
Review of Ted Leo & The Pharmacists’ The Brutalist Bricks
Matias CorralIt gives me great comfort to live in a world where Ted Leo & The Pharmacists continue to put out records. When it comes to marrying punk fury with pop hooks and striking the right balance of lyrical cynicism and optimism, all served with a good dose of humour and via a relentless work ethic, there’s few better or more consistent. With the release of his newest record The Brutalist Bricks tomorrow, he cements that opinion even further into fact.
Like pretty much everything Leo has ever put out, Bricks is loud, punchy and pogo-friendly with a couple moments of acoustic thoughtfulness to punctuate proceedings, but within the frame of reference of his discography, it stands apart for a couple reasons. His last effort, 2007’s Living With The Living, was a sprawling effort both in length and stylistic forays and while you hate to suggest that ambition or experimentation are bad things, it didn’t have the impact or staying power as his prior works. And whether the follow-up is a reaction to that or not, Bricks is both tighter-sounding and more focused and possibly Leo’s most outright rocking effort since 2003’s Hearts Of Oak. It’s a comparison which makes it worth noting that Bricks is the first record to be recorded as a four-piece since Hearts, though once-and-again Pharmacist James Canty’s guitar is a decidedly more in-your-face presence on the new album than Dorien Garry’s keys ever were.
Stepping back to regain perspective, Bricks nestles quite comfortably alongside its fellows – if you were to randomly grab a Ted Leo record to spin and came up with this one, you wouldn’t be at all disappointed. It also won’t likely be anyone’s long-term go-to Pharmacists record – all in all, Hearts Of Oak and The Tyranny Of Distance remain his finest moments – but as a reminder that the world is a better place with Ted Leo in it and making music, it does quite nicely.
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Mighty Sparrow”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Even Heroes Have To Die”
Stream: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists / The Brutalist Bricks
MySpace: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
Video: Headlights – “Secrets”
If you, like me, are going to miss all three of Dan Mangan’s upcoming shows at Canadian Musicfest this week – Thursday night at The Great Hall, Friday night at The Courthouse and Saturday’s in-store at Criminal Records – take heart: he’s already scheduled a return engagement for April 22 at the Horseshoe, tickets $12.
Aussies An Horse are looking to make my first post of the year even more correct, having scheduled another Toronto show for April 26 at The Garrison. They’ll release Beds Rearranged, a remix EP of last year’s Rearrange Beds, on March 23.
Video: Caribou – “Odessa”
PopMatters pays tribute to the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse while Blurt reprints an interview with him regarding the Dark Night Of The Soul project, which will finally see an official release this Summer. Hopefully the almost-completed last Sparklehorse record will eventually see the light of day as well. So immensely saddened by Linkous’ untimely passing.