When it comes to The Blood Brothers, you could call me a fan boy. Everything they've released (minus Rumors Laid Waste which I won't count) keeps progressing, keeping me on my toes. With This Adultery Is Ripe, The Blood Brothers were able to release some of the most energetic music without constraining themselves to a single genre. March On Electric Children began their expansion of music, burrowing their own sound while still retaining their previous fury of an onslaught. Their third full length, Burn, Piano Island, Burn infused their previous sound with pop in a way that was amazing. Now, with Crimes, they have pushed themselves further in that pop direction. By making their sound catchier, the Blood Brothers have sacrificed a lot of the things that made the band exceptional.
Gone are the three minute bursts of screaming fuck fantasies, replaced with 50% scream/sing formulas. Johnny Whitney reinvented his vocal style for Crimes. While Whitney did sing in The Vogue (Synth driven LSD lounge music), his manner of delivering melodies is way different now. He used to have a vicodin-laid-back delivery, but here, it's laced with cocaine and baby screams. His words shoot out like a porn star cum shot and at first you are turned off by the taste of the milky fluid. Eventually you realize how sexy the cum is and it just pours down your throat, track by track. But, after listening to Crimes again and again, I realized I don't like the taste of cum, and it just became irritating. In "Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck," it sounds like he's trying to fuck your brain through your ear holes, moaning, "Love, love, love, love, love." Hearing him orgasm into the mic really makes me wonder what was done to his penis during the recording of this album. His screams are the same as before, high and controlled. There just happens to be a lot more singing and less screaming than before. Jordan Blilie does more singing on Crimes too. Unlike his singing on Burn, Piano Island, Burn, it's not as flat. There's this trembling quality to it. It's like he just fucked a prostitute and feels guilty, but at the same time, is glowing. Listening to the song "Crimes" reminds me of a monologue in a musical. It's a perfect show tune with lyrics like, "And we're just like those condom wrappers/Used up, torn up/Thrown away," lifting your jazz hands into the air. As always, Johnny and Jordan's voices compliment each other perfectly, Johnny going high and Jordan going low. While they don't mingle as much as they did before, when they do, it sounds like an eruption of shrill ecstasy.
The lyrics as a whole won't cease to amaze, but they aren't nearly as interesting as before. They are much more fragmented and not nearly as imagery oriented. While this does make them easier to follow for most people I'm sure, it just seems like the band dumbed their previous style down. Gone are the fucked up images ("bloated like a pre-teen pregnancy"), replaced with unexciting ones ("the sun hit her body like an ugly landscape.") It's not boring though, with awesome lines like, "Take me to the pit of celebrity pregnancies/I wanna wear the skin of a magazine baby/Take me to the pit of broken faces/the five o'clock news is a fucking fantasy," in "Trash Flavored Trash," you'll find your mind wandering into some awkward fields. I've always enjoyed their rhymes; it's nice how they continue to do that in their lyrics.
The musical melodies created are still unique (you'll have trouble making comparisons to other bands) but don't retain the energy of previous albums. I'd attribute this to a combination of both the recording and a move towards more catchy melodies. "Peacocks Skeleton With Crooked Feathers" showcases this transition well. While it's still wild and weird, listening to it enough gave me a headache. Well...it didn't really give me a headache, but it almost did. But then in songs like, "My First Kiss At The Public Execution," the Blood Brothers create a juxtaposition of noise and melody well. The song begins with a javelin of noise aimed at your torso created by feedback, fuzzy bass and slow/heavy hitting drums. Then a third of the way into it, you are hit with a catchy chorus that really lightens up your current mood.
Some might say The Blood Brothers sold out (OMG THEY MAKE MONEY) because of their pop movement. Some people might complain about the V2 signing. But I commend them on their ability to continue paving their own path; another Burn, Piano Island, Burn would've been boring. Crimes just happens to be built upon a Native American burial site, which doesn't result in the greatest times. Hopefully on their journey they will make it to an oasis on their next effort.
The Blood Brothers' second album in little over a year and half finds the Seattle quintet treading some unfamiliar ground, to say the very least. Not to fret, long-time fans of the Brothers of Blood - the trademark frenetic rhythms, angular guitars (which often recall Duane Denison on a bad crack binge), stop-start dynamics, and the dual shrieking voices of Jordan Billie and Johnny Whitney are still intact. Only this time around, the group's attack is more akin to an uncomfortable body massage than a violent molestation via a pack of rabid Chihuahuas.
Crimes highlights include the molar-shaking stomp of opener "Feed Me To The Forest" and the hideous pop of "Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck," which finds Whitney examining the antics of a hospitalized playa-playa. As he sings the song's irresistibly off-kilter hook ("Love" x15) Whitney, though sounding more and more like a coked-up transvestite as the track progresses, truly becomes the character he's equally romanticizing and decrying. "Peacock Skeleton With Crooked Feathers," in what could be decoded as an angry screed against celebrities, crooked politicians, and just about everyone in between, moves along on an infectious Rhodes riff and a retarded, Latin-tinged shuffle as Whitney and Billie deliver such bile-inducing lines as:
So who do you love?/Who do you trust when your friends take a match to your front lawn?/A panicked face makes the peacock proud/So who do you love?/Who do you kill when your senator drags out your first born?/A panicked face makes the peacock proud
The group's lyrics are deranged and fantastical, as always. But musically, much of Crimes could have stood to spend a little more time on the grill. Too many of the tracks rehash or recycle ideas from the past and present (see "Teen Heat" and the title track's total swindle of Iggy Pop's "Nightclubbing"), sound under-cooked ("My First Kiss At The Public Execution" and the promising, raw-boned baroque of "Rats And Rats And Rats For Candy"), or simply don't deliver the goods ("Trash Flavored Trash," "Wolf Party"). The group has no shortage of great ideas bubbling inside those scruffy little heads of theirs, but in spite of the Blood Brothers' best attempts to add a few minor modifications to keep things from getting too mundane, Crimes comes off as the work of amateur crooks.
6.95 / 10
Reviewed by 2 writers.
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I don't even know where to begin. The Blood Brothers are one of the hardest bands to describe out there right now. The terms 'avant-hardcore' and 'artsy hardcore' are thrown ...
Posted March 8, 2004, 5:43 p.m.
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