Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brunettes - Mars Loves Venus (2004)

Time for something a bit mellower, melodic and sweetly romantic, I think. Time for some more from that kiwi duo*, the Brunettes.

This is their second album, and it was released in 2004. It is fairly plain in the packaging department - the white cover features Jonathan and Heather, one at each side and a love heart and arrow in the center. Inside are the lyrics and a notice informing us that copying this disc is illegal. There is also Copy Control Technology on this disc, and when I put it in my drive it informs me there is an .exe program too. Now, my feelings on pirating music are mixed. I don't believe it's fair to the artists to have their songs stolen and distributed willy-nilly, but as a girl growing up in a small town in a small country in the days before the internet, a large proportion of my music was discovered through cassette mix tapes sent to me by my friends overseas. Since then, I have gone on to buy 100s of cds quite a few of which are from bands I would never have known about if I had not had these mix tapes. Also, the CCT means that if you own the cd but wish to add it to your computer (smartphone, ipod, ipad whatever) playlist then you can't. Except that I'm fairly certain with this one I just ripped it to my hard drive like I have (almost) every other CD I own. One of my other CDs pretended I had ripped it, then insisted I reinsert the disc into my computer if I wish to listen to it (one of my Epica ones, IIRC). For a band like the Brunettes that are not particularly well known, they are limiting themselves from being shared and heard.

Anyhow, semi-rant over. Let's get the Twee Pop a-spinning!

Album opens with "Mars Loves Venus" a redone version of one of their very first tracks. It's poppy and playful - with tambourines. To sweet and innocent, like cotton candy.
"Walk? We should run! Such is life under this burning sun..."
 Twangy guitars give us "Loopy Loopy Love". Another playful and delightful piece, with a slightly bitter edge to it:
"Gonna kill me a cupid cos a cupid causes love...."
 "Polyester Meets Acetate" is slower and kinda cruisey, with  Jonathan doing most of the singing.

Stirring organ leads us into "Too Big for Gidget", a duet in which both partners ponder falling in love with someone that they don't match up to. Height wise. Short and sweet.

"Whale in the Sand" starts with singing (squawking?) gulls/monkeys. Good rhythms. Repetitive lyrics. Kinda makes me feel summery and sunny, even if they're singing about a big dead whale (or maybe the elephant in the room is a similar concept).

Beautiful, gentle musically, "You Beautiful Militant" has rather harsher lyrics. Good beats, with a slightly discordant keyboard (or some sort of keyed instrument) edge to them.

"You pick up your gun and shoot everyone. You know what to do, to someone who don't like you."
 Jonathan takes charge of the vocals in "The Record Store". Lots of La-la-la-ing.

"These Things Take Time", like learning the clarinet. Which is how the song begins - clarinet, piano. Some nice do-doodo-dah piano playing. Maracas. Hand claps. All very school group 70s stuff. Possibly reminscent of Abba. Loads of percussion, including those little circles that clacker together. Castanets?

Bit more of an epic start to "Bestfriend Envy". Some melancholic guitar. Bouncy, but whiny lyrics - ah, jealousy raises its ugly head.

More melancholy, but "No Regrets". Beautiful, bittersweet; delicate piano accompaniment.

"Leonard Says" starts with Heather's tender, hurt vocals; then Jonathan interjects with the next line. You can actually hear Heather's kiwi accent in one of her lines. This is a conversation to musical accompaniment.

We end with the gloriously bittersweet "Your Heart Dies" in which Jonathan and Heather sing mournfully but tenderly to one another, switching out line-for-a-line. Contains what might be possibly one of the finest lines in a song:
"I could be as faithful as a seahorse and if you were a marine biologist you'd know how tender that line was."
 Mostly a vocal piece, the gentle, accompaniment of a banjo and light drums help create the maudlin mood. There's a little pause in the center, a couple of heart rending spoken lines and then more exquisitely moody instrumentation.

Another beautifully sweet, sensitive and somewhat sorrow-filled album. I love the playful innocence to the music, and the slightly darker side to some of the lyrics.

Let's go for an 8/10.

* and friends

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