Album Review: Elder Brother – Heavy Head

imageWhen it comes to supergroups, Elder Brother is one that has remained a little more off the radar than most. A collaboration between Daybreaker’s Dan Rose and Kevin Geyer of The Story So Far, the group has also nabbed members of The American Scene to add into the mix on their debut album, ‘Heavy Head’. The result is a muted pop punk vibe that makes for a great bit of easy listening musicianship, and a more than worthy stopgap between the band members’ other projects.

‘Pennsylvania’, as the album opener, has a lot to live up to considering the strength of previous works by each one of the collaborative quartet. As if there was any doubt, Rose’s vocals combine with the guitar of Geyer as if they’ve been working together for years, and the work of The American Scene’s Vincent brothers doesn’t go unnoticed either as all four band members duel for the spotlight as their first impression as Elder Brother is made a solid one. It’s ‘Throw Me to the Wolves’, however, that has Elder Brother looking like a success in its own right, and not just off pre-existing strengths of the musicians within. There’s no entry requirement for enjoying ‘Heavy Head’ that involves already being invested in the project’s parent bands; this is far from simple “imagine if they put out an album together” fanservice. Nevertheless, as ‘Throw Me to the Wolves’ twists its way through four minutes of superb music with a chorus that was made for arena-filling sing-alongs, the chemistry between the four-piece is certainly not something that has come together overnight.

Rose stays on sublime form as ‘Webs’ gives way to ‘Any Sort Of Plan’, the latter of which is a semi-acoustic heartstring-tugger, a siren song for dimly lit rooms on nights where you’d much rather be somewhere else. It’s by far the best lyrical work on an album full of fantastic writing, and the change of pace definitely works in the album’s favour, with what could be passed off as a filler track on paper ends up as one of the standout efforts that ‘Heavy Head’ has to offer. ‘Lightning Bug’ is a fresh injection of force to follow up the slower preceding track, and the contrast only serves to make ‘Lightning Bug’ seem even more raw and towering as Elder Brother fire on all cylinders once more. ‘A Slow, Comfortable Deep Breath’ is an odd inclusion however, clearly intended as another relaxing respite but pitch-modified vocals hamper what would be far better off as an instrumental piece. The title track follows to take the album into its second half, and following it is another semi-acoustic effort in the same vein as ‘Any Sort Of Plan’, and while ‘Who’s Gonna Carry You Home?’ isn’t quite on the level of the earlier piece, it still backs up the quickly-forming notion that Elder Brother are jacks of many trades, and capable of hitting the spot with each of them. ‘Really Free’ and ‘In My Bones’ carry the album into its final stages with the quartet still showing no signs of putting a single foot wrong. Undeterred by the more laid back majority of the record, the later tracks still pack a bit of a kick, and ‘In My Bones’ lets loose in its final moments a crescendo that has been building since ‘Heavy Hand’.

There’s just enough time for Elder Brother to work one last bit of acoustic magic, and cough up Dan Rose’s best single vocal work since Daybreaker released ‘The Northbound Trains’. For the most part, the band seem like one that would have played during the happier scenes of Skins; feelgood soft rock dipping its toes into the more pop-punk end of the spectrum. You’d hope that ‘Heavy Hand’ isn’t just a one-off stopgap during time off from the quartet’s parent projects, and that there is more of a future for Elder Brother. ‘Heavy Hand’ is a magnificent start for the collaboration, and more of the same is the least that the debut deserves.

5/5

‘Heavy Head’by Elder Brother is out now on Pure Noise Records.

Elder Brother links: Facebook|Twitter

Words by Antony Lusmore (@Metacosmica)

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