Sunday, March 26, 2017

Album Review: Brother Firetribe - Sunbound

I've made no secret of the fact that I have a fondness for cheesy, 80s style melodic rock. I rather enjoy music that tries to have a good time with itself, although I do have to say that I haven't found many of those records that have stood the test of time. Plenty of them have garnered positive reviews, but they don't seem to hold sway the way that the very best albums each year do. Brother Firetribe falls into that category. I reviewed their last album positively, and I do believe I proclaimed "Desperately" to be one of the best tracks of that entire year, but I can't recall the last time I actually listened to the entirety of that album. Therein lies the problem Brother Firetribe has to overcome; how to make an album that I not only enjoy, but will continue to go back to over time.

We jump straight into the 80s with "Help Is On The Way", which opens with keyboards that are reminiscent of the old hit "Maniac". That cheesy sound is just what I was hoping for, and it's easy to crack a smile knowing that this is an album that wants you to enjoy yourself listening to it. As each year passes, I grow more and more convinced that music needs to focus more on that aspect, and less on the traditionally important rock/metal tendencies like darkness and heaviness.

"Sunbound" plays like the name suggests, a warm sound that wants to recall bright summer days. This is the kind of album you could easily imagine playing on a mid-afternoon drive through the countryside, with friends singing along and laughing. Think "Car Pool Karaoke" for the analog age. Or as we non-teenagers call it; the way things used to be.

Brother Firetribe has found a comfortable place in their career, where they know exactly what they want to achieve as a band. They write music that is catchy and fun, and embraces the forgotten elements of the past. That makes the music endearing to anyone who remembers those days (even the dying days, faintly, like I do), but it doesn't overcome the issue I was mentioning earlier. While I thoroughly enjoyed my forty-five minutes listening to "Sunbound", I can tell already that it's not going to be an album that stands out and demands for me to play it again and again. That's not saying it isn't good, but it does limit how fervently I can talk about it.

Also at issue is that I don't hear that one song that can rise above and become one of the anthems of the year. "Desperately" did that last time, and nothing here approaches that level of musical addictivity. "Sunbound" is a solid album, and there is nothing remotely bad about it, but there also isn't anything remarkable about it.

"Sunbound" is a good album that is an enjoyable way to spend some time. I'm sure on a lazy summer day I will find myself matching my mood with this record, but it will be an occasional thing. I don't quite think "Sunbound" is an anytime, anywhere sort of album, and those are the best ones. Still, for a dose of fun, Brother Firetribe has make a good record. Don't think I intend to say anything otherwise.

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