Brazil – A Hostage and the Meaning of Life (CD)

Mixing some electronics (Nic) into the traditional emo formula is how Brazil has turned the music world on their ear, and each anthemic emo track is proof that these two elements can be successfully combined. While some of the guitar work in a track like “The Novemberist” is cliché beyond belief (the spaced-out guitar), Jon’s vocals (in the style of The Goodlife and Brand New) are what really captures the minds and the hearts of the listener base. The tinkling faux-piano of “Io” is just one of the innovations of Brazil, with these twinkling synths swirling through the vast majority of the tracks on the CD. “The Iconoclast” is the most complete and convoluted tracks on “A Hostage”, being multi-layered and having a host of completely different sounds fighting for the listener’s attention. The most interesting matchup in “The Iconoclast” comes between the smooth synth and the over-distorted guitar, with each instrument tugging at an ear. It is precisely this tugging, more prevalent in tracks like “Zentropa” that really becomes distracting. Each member of this act is trying to be a rock-star with their own little hook, and during some of these tracks, the fact is that too many different things are happening to make the track memorable at the least.

Each track on “A Hostage” has the unfortunate ability to mesh into the tracks that immediately preceded it. “Aventine” is a strong late-disc effort, a double-part harmony strengthened by sonic guitars and decent drumming. Everything is halted for the electronic instrumental (Russian song), which morphs into “Fatale and Futique”, mixing together the space-rock of Pink Floyd and the hair-rock of Skid Row into the fake-classic emo sound they create for the track.

Brazil is on top of their game when it comes to the recording of “A Hostage”, and the title cut is a distinct track that would be utterly perfect for Clearchannel radio. I would have to suggest that the album was rushed out slightly, as some of the tracks have some key aspects missing from them, just as some others feel as if everything is crammed into a sub-4 minute period without any critical ear to pare down what was unnecessary. I understand the desire of cramming everything into a block that Alex Newport must have, after working with noise-punk band The Locust, but this is not what Brazil needs to make the perfect album. Complexity does not need to be sacrificed to make a clear album.

Top Tracks : A Hostage, Fatale and Futique

Rating: 5.1/10

Brazil – A Hostage and the Meaning of Life / 12 Tracks / 2004 Fearless Records / / / Reviewed 25 July 2004

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