Record Review by Amber Henson
Here’s what I think I like most about The Brunettes: They wrap up dark and stormy lyrics inside clear, blue sky beats. In a way, it makes them kind of sneaky. I think I’m listening to happiest song in the world but then it turns to out to be about regret, death, or asthma.
Paper Dolls is full of what makes The Brunettes sound so fun and unique, that is, the claps, the bells, the echoes, the wonderful duets. This album really highlights the difference between Heather Mansfield’s high-pitched sweet voice and Jonathan Bree, whose voice will, to me, forever sound like a dreamy high school football quarterback. I don’t think The Brunettes would be the magical band that they are without this contrast of voices. As awesome and creative as James Milne, Ryan McPhun, Harry Cundy, and Andrew Thompson are, their great beats just aren’t quite the soul of the band.
I have a feeling it will be awhile before I’m able to om-nom-nom this album properly. There’s a lot in here, and I’m only beginning to dig through the layers of meaning. Track two, “Red Rollerskates,” sounds cute; after all, having your boyfriend pull you with a rope during walks since you have asthma seems like a good idea, but the lyrics “rope around me, like a collar” has so many implications I’m not even sure where to start.
With their Casio keyboards, voice distortion, and various wind instruments, Paper Dolls is an album of atmosphere. It’s an album full of moods and it insists that you conform to how it feels. In a good way, it tricks its listeners to be sad with its minor keys, but then saves us with happy ending lyrics.
Do The Brunettes grow with their fourth full-length album? On the surface it seems like no, but I think a closer looks says that they have gotten smarter. And they’re not taking the simple road, which is always a great temptation. So set your iPod to repeat and make sure you’re not driving – those claps are damned catchy.
The Brunettes - Interview
The Brunettes - Structure and Cosmetics
The Brunettes - Live - Sept. 13, 2007
More by this writer:
fun. - Aim and Ignite
Old Canes - Feral Harmonic
Castanets - Texas Rose, the Thaw, and the Beasts
Paper Brain - Ain't Nobody Cares