The most striking aspect about Brave Bird's complex new EP T–Minus Grand Gesture is the variation in the sound of each track. It's all over the place, in a good way. The band takes elements of emo, math rock, and Pavement–style indie rock like their previous album, but this time the sentiment is way more in–your–face. It's clear Brave Bird is trying to make a point here. The album displays a wide range of what the band is capable of musically, and is a stark contrast to their last album, You're Not Quite Ready. (You can bet they're ready now).
The raw emotion conveyed in tracks like "Rekindle" and "Open Up Your Mouth" are bone–chilling and really display the band members are attuned to expressing themselves in an articulate manner. The sound of this album fits the logical progression of not only Brave Bird's work, but music of the genre, generally. The skirt is definitely up on their influences. Some of the vocals on songs like "I Don't Wanna Know" sound like Taking Back Sunday, while other songs sound like Third Eye Blind. However, "Open Up Your Mouth" also has a sadness which can recently be found in the acoustic songs of bands like Real Friends. T–Minus Grand Gesture has an emo quality, but goes on to what seems like the next logical step. This is what makes this album so great.
Brave Bird is a pretty appropriate band name for the style of music the members make. In this album, tracks deal with the topic of dealing with reality, and let's face it, one must be brave in order to do that– as a bird must be brave in order to leave the nest. Through the tracks, there is a definite sense of musician/listener camaraderie. This seems intentional especially because there is, during a few songs, a sense of extreme closeness of the vocalist Chris Lieu to the microphone, which breaks the fourth album wall. These feelings of closeness coupled with the range of styles within this album suggest the band members realize all of us are going through a difficult time in life, and through the years have found solace in the genres they are representing. It becomes clear the purpose of their work is to relate to others in order to alleviate sadness (not only for themselves by creating the work, but for listeners, as well).
"Open Up Your Mouth" is a song about finding yourself, which likens realizing your own mortality ("I don't wanna grow old, I don't wanna die, but there's nowhere left to go") to swallowing a bitter pill. They're telling you, and perhaps themselves, to take it. What to "take" has various different forms, as the album touches upon acceptance of the self in "Rekindle" with lyrics like "there's not much to say because it's what I've become." There comes an age when you stop caring about what others want, and start focusing on what you want out of life. The crux of this album is essentially accepting what already is, and can't be changed. This is a mature and serious topic, and the haunting quality of the songs reflect that. Many of the songs from this album are jarring, and stay with you after the album is done, much like thinking about a breakup after it's over.
Relationships are a focus of this album as well. The lyrics in "Rekindle" seem to almost threaten, saying "don't care about me." Despite the reasoning behind the lyric line, this statement essentially proffers there is no getting around who the subject, in realty, is. This song, coupled with the line in the self–titled track "Tminusgrandgesture", "I do what I do just to make you feel good, does that mean I should–" both show that the members aren't totally out of the woods as far as growing up goes. Clearly there are still some problems going on with dating. However, this seems to be more due to the problems with the self, than anything. Some of the track vocals display not only sadness, but hints of anger and frustration. And in fact, love must be part of the equation, because there are lyrics like "it's not the place, but it's the people that make the home." Ultimately, T–Minus Grand Gesture further explores ascension into age and maturity, while experimenting with new themes and sounds to do so. This album is creative and awesome, and I dare you to not sing along to these tracks in your car.