The Brute Chorus - The Brute Chorus

Richard Wink 19/10/2009

Rating: 3.5/5

This debut album is unique since it was recorded live in one take back in February in front of a devoted crowd at Camden's Roundhouse Studio, and then expertly mixed in NYC by Victor Van Vugt (who has previously produced the likes of Beth Orton, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Gogol Bordello). The notable advantages of recording the album in a live setting means there is a potent dose of urgency, an unnerving sense of intimacy, and an overpowering vibrancy on display that could never be replicated in a number of ordinary, drawn out studio sessions.

Beginning with 'Hercules', a strange jerky song that sounds like Foals covering a version of the popular Motown song 'Ball from Confusion' from Sister Act 2 (video); infested with biblical references and greek mythology, the lyrics don't make a lot sense but it is a tasty little track, full of feist and fire.

After this anomaly the record relies upon a mix of burlesque, folk flair and rockabilly riotous energy. From the chirpy 'Send Me A Message' to the skiffle shuffle of 'Nebuchadnezzar', a track that builds and builds until it abruptly diminishes to a strangely anti-climatic finish. 'The Cuckoo & the Stolen Heart' has a distinct Pogues-like bar room argument quality, and 'All The Pilgrims' channels the carefree cool of fifties Cliff Richard (back when Cliff was a cross between Elvis and The Fonz).

Vocalist James Steel reminds me a lot of Dexys Midnight Runners front man Kevin Rowland; his charisma carries quite a few of the songs; however there is a mid album lull when the frantic tempo drops, it is clear that his gear really should really stay in fifth. The final track 'I'm Gonna Shake Your Treehouse Down' does however strike the right balance, as Steel showcases his talents as an adept storyteller.

The Brute Chorus are a tight unit, and this album acts as an effective flyer for future tour dates, however they lack a handful of memorable tracks that would have turned a respectable, innovative album into a potentially great one.

Release date: 19/10/09