This week our writers get their heads around the intriguing prospect of Belgian four-piece BRNS (pronounced ‘brains’), who veer between all kinds of different styles. Could they be Belgium’s answer to Alt-J? Here’s what FFS has to say….
Rosy Ross: I have to admit, I had reservations about the word-with-the-vowels-removed name (why are so many bands doings that?), but they can call themselves whatever they damn well like if they’re good enough, and BRNS definitely are.
If you like confident vocalists and a noisy sound that can only be properly harnessed by good musicians, then you’ll love BRNS. Think Wolf Parade, Animal Collective and Arcade Fire at their most raucous and yet controlled.
First track ‘Clairvoyant’ is well-layered and quite epic in sound. Starting with natural noises and an urgent cymbal, it gradually builds to a crescendo of electronic and wordless voices acting as another instrument. Lyrics eventually surface over a cacophony of crashy cymbals, guitar and organ. This song is so full of life, and a great opener.
This energy, and a joyful playing of instruments, invigorates the whole album. These guys can make enough noise that you wouldn’t guess there are only four of them. My favourite track, ‘Deathbed’, is totally thrilling, a visceral song with an explosive start, which builds itself around the repeated lyrics “I love you so”- it’s a beating heart, so to speak. The band’s sound is totally at odds with the strong theme of death and disaster running through this album – but however morbid the songs may be, there’s nothing miserable or depressing about listening to them.
Kathy Saunders: BRNS seem to deal solely in messy, chaotic, experimental indie pop. Their album ‘Wounded’ often sounds like some kind of experiment actually; it’s almost scientific in the way it combines a lot of shouting with a lot of drum beats that aren’t quite sure where they’re supposed to be or what they’re supposed to be doing. At the same time, it isn’t an unpleasant noise that these boys are making. In fact, quite a lot of it is pretty damn catchy.
‘Mexico‘ in particular is a track that stays with you for quite a while, the kind of thing you find yourself humming half an hour after hearing and don’t know why. Ultimately, it’s a drunken story told with a hangover and it sounds like it. ‘Here Dead He Lies’ has a similar effect, only it sounds better organised, leaning heavily on the percussion in a more structured way.
The highlight from this album is ‘Story of Bible’, which, weighing in at over six minutes, is a modern-day epic. It’s charming in it’s own way and there is more than one occasion where it sounds exactly how Noah’s arc would sound if re-enacted and blasted through a megaphone. Closing track ‘Our Lights’ was another especially memorable one. The intro is almost anthemic and initially sounds more polished than the others and at times it’s a bit like a lullaby.
There’s a lot going on with this record, but it’s one where you notice something different in every single track the more you listen to it. Safe to say, you’d be hard-pushed to get bored with it.
We want to know what you think too- have a listen and give your thoughts on Twitter to @forfolkssake please! Catch the band as they gallivant between Belgium and France from Nov 21 to Dec 15, ending with a show at the Winter Camp Festival in Paris.