Album Reviews

Bricolage – Bricolage

(Creeping Bent) UK release date: 26 January 2009

bri-col-age. n. Something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available.

It’s an apt name for a band that, going off their eponymous debut album’s opening track, seem to have patched together their sound from whatever inspiration was to hand in Scotland’s second city.

Bricolage is released on the subversive pop label Creeping Bent, and the band themselves cite Orange Juice and Josef K as major influences (so far, so good). This tries hard to be an intelligent record, and the band have certainly tried to cultivate their image accordingly, as artists of literary pop – with a performance at Lancaster library, no less, and the endorsement of fellow arty Glaswegians Franz Ferdinand, who plugged them on 6music and gave them an honourable mention in the NME last year following their support slot on the band’s 2007 tour.

The problem is, while the Postcard bands are certainly fitting points of reference, sadly somewhere along the line (lost in production perhaps) the low-fi, early ’80s post-punk sound that inspired the record has been all but abandoned – leaving it all sounding rather disappointingly like the Fratellis. Maybe it’s just the Glaswegian twang, but listening to the album play out creates the distinct impression of having heard it all before.

First track Bayonets opens promisingly akin to Belle And Sebastian‘s The Boy With The Arab Strap, however, this soon gives way to the indie-pop staples that are to abound throughout the rest of the album – skinny jeans, hand-claps, jangly guitars held high, imaginative choruses (la-la-la-la) and vocals that verge on a slightly straighter Pete Doherty on certain tracks – the latter courtesy of the infinitely less rock�n’roll-sounding Wallace Meek, with a little help from bandmate Graham Wann.

The sense of nostalgia in the record is overwhelming – from Bayonets to 6th Form Poet, youth is a common emblem, and the retro feel of the record enhances this sense of yearning for another time. The point they seem to have missed, though, in doggedly paying their homage to a bygone era they are no doubt too young to remember, is that the original Postcard bands’ promise was in their ability to look forward, and not back.

But for all its shortcomings, Bricolage is at least well intentioned and definitely well executed – frenetic, tightly instrumented, and performed with aplomb. Closing track The Waltzers is the long-awaited highlight of the album, a curious mixture of Madness and Cold War Kids – but indisputably the song they own more than any other on this record.

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