Classification is an interesting topic, let’s take the term ‘Pop’ for example. In Canada, it’s a noun used to describe a carbonated beverage. In most places a *pop* is a verb, or soft explosion; we like this one best. Finally, we have our first impressions of Sorry Girls’ Bravo!: ick, pop - adjective, turn it off. Like the whispered lows (soft explosions?) of opener ‘Parade’ in between tender inhales held our attention. Besides, Jimi Hendrix was once considered pop music.
What initially grabbed our attention was ‘Prettier Things’, the latest single. It had warm tones that carried across like Pearl Charles’ work, which we’re huge fans of, and so naturally gravitated towards. An album should be greater than the sum of its parts and we’re afraid Bravo! doesn’t tip the scale to long-play and would’ve worked better as an EP.
Back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, any music out of Montreal was worth listening to. The city was a powerhouse of the indie scene generating the like of Arcade Fire, Chromeo, The Dears, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Grimes, Handsome Furs, Hot Springs, Men I Trust, Suuns, TOPS, and Wolf Parade to name a few. So, after hearing the single and a little digging, we saw this duo was from Montreal, naturally, perhaps expectations were already a bit high, that’s on us.
The album feels like a love song to mental health, not that there’s anything wrong with that, mental health is paramount. The lyrics on the ‘The Exiles’, “I carry it/despite what’s good for me” sounds a lot like a friend who’s a hot mess (we all know one, or probably several) but has recently been to a therapist and can’t stop talking about it. Then, as inevitably they always do, go on to diagnosing you after their first session. Cured (cursed?)!
Tied to the theme of self-discovery, we found it to be a bit too introspective. Don’t get us wrong, self-reflection is great, but indulgence leads to tooth decay and worse, obesity. Lyrically, the album comes across as a narrative from an introvert that’s infatuated with their own journal entries. A bit syrupy and shallow, making it difficult to connect with on a more substantial level.
Billed as an album of celebration and fun, it’s difficult not to feel conflicted with titles like ‘Aftermath’, ‘The Exiles’, ‘Pillar of Salt’, ‘Used To Be’, ‘Sorcery’, ‘The Wait’, ‘Enough is Enough’ and ‘If You’re Done, I’m Done’. The album cover is literally a demon spewing the word Bravo! Happy to be exorcised or cheering on poor decisions? I guess you decide.
We found perpetual pop beats masking darker themes at play here, darker still than the self-indulgent tone of the album as a whole. Returning to ‘Prettier Things’, “chasing the fears away so I wouldn’t have to face the feeling” comes across a bit manic. The pitch of the vocals on ‘Aftermath’ followed suit and clocked in at 2 minutes 42 seconds but felt much, much longer; picture a one-minute timer in plank position.
Were there redeeming qualities to Bravo! though? We’d say so. ‘Pillar of Salt’ reminded us of a Hall and Oates tune and was our favourite on the album. Well balanced with the mix of guitar, sax and synth was as well layered as a lasagne, made of music. Heather Foster is her own backup singer on the track, really flexing her instrumental chops. ‘Other Side’ feels like a nod to Ladyhawke, which made our toes tap and had us stop over-thinking the album and just enjoy the keys, sax and swooshie surf sounds on the track. ‘If You’re Done, I’m Done’, a stripped back tune, ends the album on a hush, which we’re always a sucker for. The lyrics drop out sharply and remind us of Sinatra’s ‘Angel Eyes’ performance where he sings, excuse me while I disappear stepping abruptly out of the spotlight.
Our final thoughts? Ultimately, a great substitute to whatever music you’ve recently been subjected to while on hold. It’s got great calming vibes but like any hold music you’re forced to listen to, it’ll eventually drive you mad. It was hard to picture it in the soundtrack of our lives, highs, lows or even in-betweens. We can’t see this being dug out of a record crate in a few years' time, or even snagged by an algorithm. It’ll likely be lost to the sands of time or the obscurity and void of a black hole. Would’ve worked better as an EP (‘Prettier Things’, ‘The Wait’, ‘Pillar of Salt’, ‘Other Side’, ‘If You’re Done, I’m Done’.) but quantity over quality won out in the end and so we’re left with a soft explosion rather than an echo through time.