You can see it in their faces on the album cover, that "what went wrong" kind of look. The Bravery were supposed to be New York's next big thing, the new face riding the neo-new wave. Sadly in a sea of bands throwing in synthesizers and electronic drums not even a feud with The Killers could help them live up to the hype that hit most people long before the first single did. That's not to say their first record wasn't a modest success or solid from start to finish, it just wasn't quite the splash everyone who heard the singles thought it was going to be. So with that out of the way let me say it was probably for the best and get on with this review.
The Sun and the Moon is a very subtle and mature departure from the sounds Bravery fans might be used to. It's an indulgent record, but not selfish. The songs retain a comfortable structure and the album as a whole is polished and well rounded, The production is first-rate, but the mixing is where the post work really shines with all the little nuances popping out at just the right time perfectly accenting the feel of the songs. Vocally front man Sam Endicott works himself as just another instrument, going for the compliment rather than the hook (but still providing hooks-aplenty). Lyrically he pushes the abstract but with a little biased reading between the lines a theme of missed chances and perseverance appears from time to time. "Waiting for our ship to come, but our ships not coming back".
The album starts with "believe" and "this is not the end" straight ahead rock tracks with bluesy heavy leads that drive the song. Ambient tones and harmonies with large passionate choruses and synth riffs there strictly for mood instead of movement. Both tracks follow a similar formula pulling the listener into the record. The tracks that follow, "Every Word Is a Knife in My Ear" and "Bad Sun" sound more like classic Bravery. Great dance songs, synth heavy, electronic drum, dangly earring, bob hair cut kind of stuff. Then the stand out song on the album ,"Time Won't Let Me Go" , the kind of song that will show up on the sad uplifting part of Grey's Anatomy or House. With the sing along bridge and outro this might be the sleeper summer song of 2007. Next up an acoustic bluesy song that doesn't feel as out of place as it could. It does it job as a wind down track before the album takes a
different turn. If this were more of a cruising record this would be the song where you're driving through the desert.
It is refreshing to hear a record the gets stronger in the second half. With obligations out of the way the songwriting really starts pushing itself. The structures loosen slightly and the songs start to have a more of the organic written with feeling more than formula touch. The backing vocals branch out with more creative risky melodies and it works. It is in this last half that fair-weather fans of the bravery will glaze over but music fans will really start to tune in. You can hear in the composition of the
last 5 tracks that The Bravery are taking chances and focusing on the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.
The album ends with a melancholy piece that crescendos into an ideal wrap up of The Sun and the Moon, a record that is quite impressive from start to finish. Major success on a grand scale might never be in the cards for these guys but integrity, substance and sold out shows in the "in vogue" venues is firmly in their grasp.