Andr� Herman D�ne has taken on a new identity as Stanley Brinks. Does this mean anything to you? No? Former identities notwithstanding, in teaming up with The Wave Pictures (who’ve also backed John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats), he’s made an album worth listening to.
Sure, it’s hard to tell if you should take Brinks seriously (he’s previously performed under the pseudonyms Ben Dope, Ben Haschish and Klaus Bong, after all), and his lyrics often come off as quickly-arrived-at rhymes strung together haphazardly. But the jazzy, fun simplicity of The Wave Pictures’ music, paired with the Nico-era Lou Reed quality of Brinks’ lazy, bemused delivery makes for something altogether delightful.
The marriage of Brinks and The Wave Pictures seems almost cosmic in its rightness. Brinks’ voice is something between the aforementioned Reed and the spastic wackiness of the Violent Femmes‘ Gordon Gano. The Wave Pictures are the definition of hazy, lo-fi surf pseudo-jazz-folk. This is seaside coffeehouse music in the absolute best sense.
Often, Franic Rozycki’s guitar solos steel the show, ham-handed and frenetic as they are, ripped from a time long gone, and soaked in dewy reverb (see the spectacular slow-builder on Things Ain’t What They Used To Be). The rest of the band thumps and grooves in the laid-back manner of seasoned veterans of small-scale live performance, sounding at once instantly familiar and intriguingly off-kilter.
Brinks sings about love, the end of the world, the changing of times, and Martians. On the gypsy romp Things Ain’t What They Used To Be he sings, “My muse is the beauty of the world. I don’t get much from the lack of it,” and “I get tired quickly when I smoke pot.”
And on the single (if you can call it that), End Of The World, Brinks takes a refreshingly mellow approach to post-apocalyptic living: “It’s always been the end of the world, and I’m in love with a beautiful girl.”
Treading gingerly through similarly high-brow material, he explores death and the lasting quality of his own legacy on Keep Your Head High, singing “Well, I’ve been good and I’ve been brave, but don’t write that on my grave,” and, “I’m no phoenix, I’m no Jesus. I’d rather be eaten by hyenas.”
Why The Martians Are Gone tells the story of a failed Martian invasion with a riff aped, ever so gently, from Van Morrison‘s Brown Eyed Girl.� In Brinks’ version of space invasion, “The Martians kept travelling all over the planet, but the conquest never worked as they planned it.” Indeed, Brinks’ Martians “move in mysterious ways,” finding human over-population and the narrowness of London’s streets to be detractors from their nefarious war-mongering goals. Is this thought-provoking speculation, or a series of jokes and puns? It’s hard to say, but does it really matter?
Stanley Brinks And The Wave Pictures are another leaf on the same branch of the indie-folk tree that houses twee mainstays Belle & Sebastian and (to an extent) Yo La Tengo. Their first album together, in all its quirky, lo-fi, druggy goodness, is something to behold: a subtle melding of forces that always belonged together. The prospect of their eventual sophomore effort is certainly something to anticipate.