North side Dubliners debut powerfully.
This major label debut from the highly-touted guitar-based four-piece from Cabra comes with impressive credentials. Produced by Rob Kirwan (U2, Hozier, Depeche Mode etc), Born Brief is a polished affair with a big brash ‘80s sound, complete with chiming guitars steeped in reverb, and anthemic vocals bursting with energy. Vocalist James Smith has a distinctive if mannered vocal tone, with an impressive range – while the band ooze the kind of confidence only youth can bring.
Of the up-tempo songs, ‘Kelly’ displays a definite U2 influence and a riff recalling that of ‘Pride (In The Name of Love)’ while, with its gradually-building layers of guitars and urgent melody, ‘Battle’ stands out as a potent calling card.
On the low-key slow burners, they give themselves a bit more room to breathe: ‘Undo Your Dress’ and ‘You Don’t Wanna’ both have enough pop smarts to win them radio play – and a young audience.
Elsewhere, there’s a decent song struggling to get out in ‘Do Or Die’, the arrangement of which seems unnecessarily complex. Far better is ‘Strength Of Two’ – another epic, mid-tempo rocker with strong vocal harmonies. ‘Librarian’, meanwhile, has the kind of indie guitars, stop-start dynamics and memorable chorus which should go down really well in a live context.
‘Five Words’ is slightly quirkier but boasts another strong chorus, while the unadorned ‘Home’ – with only a strummed electric guitar for backing, and which deals with the subject of suicide – showcases a mellower, more poignant side to the band.
While it may dip in parts, Born Brief has enough impressive moments to make the Gypsies serious contenders. In short, this is a highly accomplished first effort – Gypsies On The Autobahn have arrived.