I’m not sure when rock ‘n’ roll got so dull. At times it seems like every possible combination of guitar, drums, and bass has been done already, and it’s just tired. This is why I’m glad Ted Leo and the Pharmacists exist. They embody the joy, soul, and the edge that is missing from so many bands today. The Brutalist Bricks marks their first album for Matador Records, perhaps foreshadowed by ‘The Toro and the Toreador’, the closing track on their previous album.
‘Bottled in Cork’ is the album’s centerpiece and finest moment. The simple closing refrain of “Tell the bartender I think I’m falling in love” is enough to worm its way into your head for the next few days. Other highlights include the vocal harmonies of ‘Ativan Eyes’, and bouncy leadoff single ‘The Mighty Sparrow’. At times, Leo indulges his punk rock instincts a little too extremely, both lyrically and musically, making for a couple awkward moments. Hearing “The means of production are now in the hands of the workers” casually dropped at beginning of ‘Ativan Eyes’ caught me off guard. Apparently quoting The Communist Manifesto is punk rock now. The Brutalist Bricks doesn’t make any massive leaps forward, but it’s another solid contribution from the band who dared to ask where all the rudeboys have gone.
As an added bonus, check out Ted Leo and the Pharmacists covering the 80s classic ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’, courtesy of the AV Club.