A play-it-safe debut from the Irish trio, though not without its charms.
Al Fox 2012-08-14
Dublin three-piece The Brilliant Things are setting the bar pretty high for themselves with a name like that. Between frontwoman Marie "Junior" Hughes, drummer Geoff French and brains-of-the-operation Greg French, they’ve got a job on their hands.
Marie’s singing father might have lit the touch paper in the story of The Brilliant Things, but his day job as manager of sibling supergroup The Corrs gave his daughter a chance to lay the groundwork from the sidelines. Now, the masterplan is put into action with the band’s debut album, Stronger Than Romeo.
While there are flecks of folksiness – twee lyrics about cups of tea, and an abundance of sweet melodies – make no mistake, Stronger Than Romeo is an out-and-out pop affair. Sonically, it’s closer to Karmin than it is to The Corrs.
But while it’s pop, it doesn’t quite carry the glittery gusto you might expect from the genre. Marie’s vocals, while strong and agreeable, prove far from characteristic, and The Fall’s festival of clichés – “I’ll be your shelter from the storm / I’ll be your shoulder to cry on” – are testament to the deficit of ideas.
Many of Stronger Than Romeo’s songs borrow from the tried-and-tested, with varied results. Rise is Avril Lavigne at her petulant best, while Something to Say aims for Katy Perry sass and doesn’t quite execute.
The synthy backing does hit the mark on occasion: for instance, in the fast-paced energy of Young. And it takes Revolution – ironically, the closing track – to really kick things into life, a guitar-heavy here-we-come anthem boasting military drums and colossal notes.
Stronger Than Romeo, as a debut offering, doesn’t disappoint. It’s easy to see why The Brilliant Things have opted to play it safe, and no doubt there’ll be a sizeable audience ready to eat it up.
But a bit more risk, and a lot more openness, could benefit them greatly. With some fine-tuning, the folky sensibilities applied to contemporary pop sounds could make for a very pleasing and successful niche indeed.