Pop Punk Perfection

By Christopher Heide

The Bravery, a group known for their seamless fusion of both the post-punk revival and new-wave styles, recently headlined a showcase at The Showbox at the Market. In an effort to promote their new album, Stir the Blood, the preponderance of songs performed came from this decidedly dark, third studio effort. Judging by the crowd, however, you would have never known you were about to witness a borderline brilliant performance from a remarkably intelligent and layered group.

The bulk of the audience was populated by high school students trying to pull off some kind of maturity; While these teenagers rushed the stage and emphatically mouthed lyrics to The Bravery’s classic singles, it was clear that the meaning behind these words was lost among the crowd of wannabe angsty teenagers.

During the unveiling of the new material, The Bravery incorporated heavy and almost over stimulating visual aspects to their show. These visual images, which were a mash up of bright-lights, bright colors, blunt editing and vintage film footage, created a surreal, almost seizure inducing experience for the audience. One of the featured songs, HateFuck was performed with a visual backdrop of mid-century sadomasochism images. The blatant symbolic connection drawn between the song and visuals was lost by few. The oversaturation of human senses somehow managed to enhance their enjoyment of the show and the music itself.

This new material is comprised from elements creating the darkest musical journey The Bravery has ever chronicled. Overall, the pieces selected from Stir the Blood perpetuated a very heavy-sounding, electronic infused rock, which is somewhat of a return to form for the group. Their second album, The Sun and the Moon, was released in 2007 and was frequently featured on many hit television programs. According to an article in Billboard Magazine, lead singer Sam Endicott described Stir the Blood as "more like the first record in that there's a lot of electronics on it, but it still sounds very human. It's also like the first record in that it's a party album. It's up-tempo, fun music, although it does have a range of things. There are slower, dreamy songs, and our bass player wrote a song that sounds like a '50s ballad."

Despite this natural return to form, Endicott also acknowledged there is a purposefully dark tone to this album. Looming over Endicott’s signature vocals is a thick, sticky and edgy beat that almost pushes the songs toward the brink of insanity. In the live show, Endicott indicated he has a drastic amount of pent-up emotions he channeled while composing new songs. Although these new songs have comparatively matured both in sound and in lyric, the always fickle young audience’s response was incredibly positive. Even the most immature of audience members appeared to be appreciating the new path of this dance-rock group, if not simply enamored with the sex appeal of all five members.

Lyrically, new songs like HateFuck and I Have Seen The Future are socially aware, which is reminiscent of other pop-punk bands, such as Green Day. As innovative and invigorating as the new material is, it does pale in comparison to the symbolic undertones of both the American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown rock operas. However, in terms of musicality, The Bravery continues as an original force to be reckoned with. Surely, continuing to produce memorable songs and brilliant live performances, The Bravery has the potential to sustain the post-punk revival.