943 Recluse

Recordhead / Mr. Whiggs

Brando’s Derek Richey has never been coy about his affection for ’90s indie rock champs Pavement, but he has over the last couple of albums moved towards more sonically advanced, subdued performances and production, making such comparisons less blatant, if not less relevant. 943 Recluse, however, sees him returning to the early cassette-days of the band, again recording on a 4-track, self-constrained from the endless possibilities of a proper studio. And while this is most likely a temporary move, for now it feels just right.

Brando may emulate the sounds of early ’90s indie rock, but that hardly implies that they’re one-minded disciples to it. Over the years, Richey has carved out a unique voice and tone, and due to the stripped-down nature of the album, his songwriting is more in focus here than on recent albums. Songs like the stumbling “Seine to the Rhine,” the careful “Planes by Delta” and the magnificent opening track “Brooklyn” show that Richey delivers the goods even in this new setting, displaying his intense vocal performance, the band’s minimalist but complex delivery and the unique tightness of the band. Even the two (listed) bonus tracks are brilliant, making another case for these guys’ impressive productivity and their sheer breadth and scope.

Sure, they sound more like Pavement fans than they have in years, but they sound like fans doing something creative and affectionate, making music that will last on its own terms. For those unfamiliar with the band, this is probably the best place to get started, as the music is more immediately moving than on previous albums. Judging by advance press, Brando may finally be getting the break they deserve this time around. If that happens, it’s a good thing it’ll happen with this album. Another great disc from one of the best US indie rock bands today.

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