The Briefs - Steal Yer Heart (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Briefs

Steal Yer Heart (2005)


The Briefs are important. They're a silly, vulgar, goofy little band that plays speedy little pop songs, yet they're important. It's because the Briefs, for me and I suspect for more than a few of you, represent an ideal. They prove that the spirit of `70s punk rock can be channelled today without having to pander to the mohawk and bondage set -- to the old men -- to that street punk pattern that's hashed and rehashed every year, competent (but of course it is) yet lifeless.

It sucks being idealized, and it's not a good position for this sort of band to be in. The more they're beatified the more it heaves unnecessary weight onto their work. Steal Yer Heart hasn't grabbed me like Sex Objects did, and the more I overanalyze that, the worse it seems.

...and I'm wrong, of course. I'm wrong in overanalyzing because, if anything, the Briefs' new record reaffirms that this is just a fantastic punk band whose irreverence makes my search for meaning unnecessary -- a waste of time. It's a product of too long settling for boring bands with "meanings." Such nonsense. Pogo you fuckers.

Lance Romance is out. The New Town Animals' Steve Kicks is in. While it thrills me to know there's Canadian blood in the mix, the difference is noticeable in some of the group vocals. Kicks has a good pedigree and holds his own well, but Lance is missed. The vocals that kick off "Genital General" sound astoundingly like Feargal Sharkey. The song follows suit and is clearly in the spirit of Undertones B-side "Mars Bars." "You Move Too Slow" is a pure, seemingly adolescent little tune and a clear departure for the band. "Getting Hit on At the Bank" stands out as something special. It swaggers at a "Teenage Kicks" tempo and leads into a perfectly twitchy guitar solo. The pause before the full band kicks in on the final verse is golden. "Stuck on You" is the sort of awkward love song that the Buzzcocks always shot for, only with a set of buzzing horns á la Rocket from the Crypt. Darker than anything else on the record, "Can't Get Through" explores somewhat new territory for what's usually a very frenetic band, but it fares well. Lyrically, this is the album's anthem. The stomping "Razorblade Heart" that ends the record is simply one of the best songs the Briefs have ever written.

With so many wonderful pop moments, from the chorus of "Forty and Above" to the sing-along "Normal Jerks," Steal Yer Heart only seems to falter because it has to follow Sex Objects. That record managed to perfectly capture the pulse of a paranoid, fucked up America. "Orange Alert" alone did in two minutes what Green Day attempted in an entire concept album. Steal Year Heart, while a great Briefs record, never really touches that.

It really does feel like I need to spend more time with Steal Yer Heart, if only to properly rank it among the Briefs' already incredible catalogue of songs. That I'm committed to putting in that effort speaks for itself.