6.5
Music  |  Reviews

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: The Brutalist Bricks

[Matador]

March 10, 2010  |  9:00am
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: <em>The Brutalist Bricks</em>

Indie vet is getting very sleepy

Ted Leo is a rock legend, but on his sixth album, he’s beginning to show his age, and not in a wisdom-gaining kind of way. The Brutalist Bricks, one of the most highly anticipated albums of this year, is full of melodic pop-punk that would have fit right in a decade ago but sounds weary and exhausted today.

The album is full of hooky, melodic choruses with snarly punk edges and chunky guitar riffs, but many of the songs blend together into murky, under-seasoned soup. The highs are sky high; “Bartolomeo And The Buzzing of Bees” has a satisfyingly groovy bass line, while the chugging punk staccato of “Where Was My Brain” is an upbeat shimmy-inducer. Finally, in the quietly gorgeous “Tuberculoids Arrive in Hops,” Leo taps into a chilling folk sound that ripples and expands like quiet water disturbed by a thrown rock.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is just plain forgettable—a flat stale gray of staid sentiments and middle-of-the-road rock. “Woke Up Near Chelsea” is a wailing mess and Leo’s use of low register vocals on “One Polaroid A Day” makes the song’s Urban Outfitters fare even less appealing. “Bottled in Cork” has a tired melody fit for dueling mics karaoke and annoyingly repeats, “Tell the bartender / I think I’m falling in love” 20 times.

Someone get Leo a heaping scoop of bee pollen, and quick; he’s brilliant, but he needs a good, healthy pick-me-up.

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