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Artist: Bricolage

Album: Bricolage

Label: Slumberland

Review date: May. 7, 2009

Upbeat pop music that easily transitions from a sunny park afternoon to a sweaty evening dance floor seems to be in high demand nowadays, and Glasgow is definitely the go-to place for it. Bricolage brings that city’s signature sounds in a pretty big way, choosing not to mess with a good thing. Better to mash all the good stuff up and figure the sum will be much greater than the parts. For the most part, this is true. Franz Ferdinand, Belle & Sebastian, and Orange Juice in particular loom large over these songs, produced by Altered Images alum Stephen Lironi, but watered down a bit for maximum digestion. Less in your face, less cute, and less original, respectively, Bricolage drives it safely down the middle to avoid major misstep and major breakthrough alike.

The record doesn’t approach the cleverness and catchiness of its precursors, nor the range. The slow, middling pop ballad is a real trouble spot as on the flatfooted “Plots are for Cemeteries.” Given the time to sink into the song, it starts to become evident that there isn’t much depth. Luckily, they stick to much quicker, rhythm-heavy arrangements like “Bayonets” and “A Terrible Souvenir” to keep things moving forward. Much more “Intuition Told Me (Part Two)” than “Intuition Told Me (Part One),” this isn’t music to dwell on so much as to get you from here to there.

Passable enough songwriters, the vocals and their knack for harmony are really where it’s at. The songs are lyrically thoughtful but know enough to linger on the one or two real golden nuggets that they’re built around. “6th Form Poet” ends with a nonsensical incantation of “Two, four, six, eight, what do you appreciate?” lifted straight from a barbershop quartet, while “On the Omnibuses” has the whole band pining and pleading “Tell me I’m the only one” over and over.

The band clearly understands what their strengths are, and the decision to continuously return to them, keeping the songs simple, short, and straightforward, staves off boredom while covering very little territory. Even potential smash hit “Footsteps” knows not to push it too hard, too fast. This time leaning on the legacy of Dexy’s Midnight Runners and the Talking Heads, the guitar and drums lock into the most addictive and anthemic rhythms on the record as the call of “Footsteps, footsteps” seductively rings out in the background. Efficient and enjoyable, as more pop should be.

Bricolage never approaches the originality and strength of personality of their influences, but that likely wasn’t the goal in the first place. It’s a light-hearted pop record playing on nostalgia and good vibes, relying on the work done by its predecessors to occupy that sunny space between the bedroom and the café. An inconsequential but pleasant record made to pass the time in an inconsequential but pleasant way, pure and simple. There are worse things.

By Evan Hanlon

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