Old Bricks: City Lights
In their young life, Old Bricks have earned the label of an indie folk band. Yet listening to their latest album, it’s hard to find any sort of folk tone, besides popping up in spurts. It’s funny how, in this crazy world of musical fandom and criticism, we desperately cling to labels, completely forgetting that these groups we place in rigid classes are in fact evolving bands composed of evolving people. So with that said, Old Bricks presents an album that is far from groundbreaking, but still offers some standout moments and emotional highlights. Intentionally or not, they show flashes of The National, Spoon ‒ if you listen closely ‒ and vocalist Stuart Edwards’s voice has an eerie likeness to that of Spencer Krug at times.
City Lights is marked by Edwards’s disaffected voice playing over melodies that would feel right at home in the emotional climax of a Friday Night Lights episode. The sound instills visions of small Southern towns, lonely bars and depression. And while Edwards succeeds admirably in giving his album a sense of atmosphere and mood, he almost achieves this tone too well. Songs like “Gleam” just float on by, never able to elevate themselves out of a sea of melancholy lyrics and lots and lots and lots of guitar. Some songs do hit and leave you longing for an album that lacks such rigid uniformity. “Limb” gives the album some urgency, with pulsating drums and a guitar hook that is so persistent and haunting it begins to sound like a siren. “Shepherd” is where I faintly picked up a Spoon-like vibe, maybe without Spoon’s polished production. On “Hill,” Edwards goes back to that urgent drum rhythm, and it works incredibly well. His vocals that border on whiny at times work best here. “Waves” works in this his voice not only avoids being whiny, but also sounds truly sorrowful and sincere.
So much of this album is really solid, yet it’s hard to make much of connection. Edwards only briefly shifts gears on City Lights. Because of that, there’s no risk, no danger and eventually the emotion begins to feel exhausting and tiresome. Points in this album, “Hill” being the pinnacle, make me want to dub this young band as exciting and promising. Yet when Edwards keeps this album on such a unwaveringly subdued course for long stretches, I think of this project as anything but.
MP3: Old Bricks “Hill”
Old Bricks: City Lights