Brandtson - Hello, Control (Cover Artwork)


Hello, Control (2006)

The Militia Group

Brandtson reached unimaginable heights a couple years ago with the album Send Us a Signal. It was my #1 album of 2004, in fact, and an examplar of flawless indie rock songwriting with some of the best hooks and melodies I've heard in my years as a music enthusiast. These guys from Cleveland had so much momemtum going into this, their fifth full-length album. Their discography to date is a testimonial to steady improvement and fine-tuning, so going into listening ot Hello, Control, if it wasn't at least a contender for #1 album of 2006 it would have to be considered a bust.

Well, I don't want to call Hello, Control a bust, but I'm not a very happy Brandtson fan right now. It's not just because they set off some alarms in my head with the electronica-styled "Nobody Dances Anymore" and "Stop Machine." It's not just because there's only one really commanding song on the album. The third track "Earthquakes & Shakes" is the only one that has the finesse of any of the material on Send Us a Signal, and even it lags lyrically far behind the band's previous work. The bigger issue here is how contrived and artificial the majority of songs sound, particularly the choruses. Send Us a Signal had a mechanical or robotic vibe to it, but it was balanced out with so much warmth and heart. Hello, Control sounds comparatively lobotomized.

It sounds like Brandtson wanted to build off some of the strengths of Send Us a Signal while taking more experimental liberties. The steady pulsating rhythms of Send Us a Signal are prominent with more foot-tapping and hand-clapping opportunities than the predecessor, but Hello, Control is a clear-cut case of a good idea being taken in the wrong direction.

[originally written for wrecktheplace]