‘Stir the Blood’ fails to stir up excitement

2 out of 5 Pitchforks

Published On:
Monday, December 7, 2009
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When I think of the ’80s, I am immediately drawn to its flaws: the overly tacky and colorful outfits, the regrettable haircuts and the new-wave music that inspired a litany of hilarious dance moves. Never in a million years could these trends come back, right?

Against all odds, though, some of these styles are actually making quite the comeback, being labeled as the next cool “retro” trend. Like it or not, the ’80s new-wave revival is coming in faster than Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean.

Not only is this “neo-new wave” ’80s movement starting to influence some of today’s fashion, but it’s seeping into the music industry as well, spawning a plethora of monotone, single-note strumming copycats. Perhaps there is no better example of this than The Bravery, which has paid homage to the sound that propelled the likes of Depeche Mode and The Cure back to fame.

In the band’s sophomore effort, “Stir the Blood,” I can’t help but feel like they somehow cheated their ’80s counterparts. What little melodic sensibility they possess in their self-titled debut seems to have been traded in for a more lackluster approach, musically, and 11 songs that are in direct conflict with any attention span.

The album begins with a mildly energetic and somewhat danceable keyboard riff in “Adored.” But from this point on, the album quickly descends into oblivion.

Further unsettling is the inadequate changes in tempo amongst songs.

Really, the only time the band decides to switch up the beat is in the slightly faster-paced song “Hatef---.” While the song boasts a fairly impressive guitar solo, it ends on a bad note by not really knowing how to segway in the next verse other than ringing guitars out into annoying feedback. The album’s first single, “Slow Poison,” should be the high point of the album, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. Here, the main keyboard riff gives us a nice little joyful feeling, but, unfortunately, it only comes in brief intervals. The rest of the song seems dejected and is often at odds with the main synthesizer part.

Near the end of the album, Sam Endicott croons away in “I Have Seen the Future” and “Red Hands and White Knuckles.” Perhaps if the singer could truly see into the future, he would have foreseen the hideously butchered end products of these songs, victimized by his shrill tone.

“Stir the Blood” does anything but what its namesake implies. It fails to stir up any kind of discernable emotion and, instead, will more than likely put you to sleep.

Reach the reporter at dane.jarvie@asu.edu.