After a long wait, Seattle’s Blood Brothers have finally released their fifth studio album, and it’s a fantastic mess of noise, thrash, twang and punk. Picking up where 2003’s Burn Piano Island, Burn left off, the band has completely redeemed itself for prior Crimes committed.
Violent, carnival-esque piano carries some of the fifteen-track album’s best tracks, but it never plays into the current cabaret-punk trend. The piano style here stands apart from the jagged rag-doll rhythm of Dresden Dolls and the many facsimiles that have since come out. “Spit Shine Your Black Clouds” eases the band’s sound into the groove carved out with the first three records. Young Machetes is a seamless train of rhythm that bounces around the board but never strays from the band’s weapon of choice: cacophony. Even “Street Swans/Exotic Foxholes,” which starts with a very atypical Blood Brother’s funk invite, has a din of eeriness that fans of Locust or even darker corners of the Squarepusher catalog can get behind.
It’s possible that the efforts to follow up Burn Piano Island, Burn were so demanding that the disappointment of 2004’s Crimes was not in its presentation but its lack of discipline. With Young Machetes, the members of the Blood Brothers have captured what it is that makes their music their music, but with enough confidence to take impressive steps forward. Some tracks still burst with the classic fury that came out on the band’s 2002 debut, This Adultery Is Ripe, and “Set Fire to the Face on Fire,” starts the album with, it seems, the main intention of winning back old fans.
Young Machetes opens up several more doors for the Blood Brothers. The music on the first three albums (which also includes 2002’s March On Electric Children) was mind-blowing in its mix of complexity and reckless abandon — to the point that the band may have alienated anyone outside of its initial fan base. Live shows demanded an overage from both band and audience. The musicians’ new sense of restraint gives us what may very well be the Blood Brothers’ smartest album yet.
“Mutiny on the Ark of the Blood Brothers” MP3 (from This Adultery Is Ripe)