Posted on July 26th, 2013 (7:25 am) by N. Neal Paradise

Remember when pop music was a force for the betterment of humanity? When it focused on more than just the boy you have a crush on, how much you like having sex with someone, or how hungry you are for a cheeseburger? When it had teeth? When pop stars were not just admired for their voices and looks but their standing as human beings? Yeah, me neither.

Bravestation does, though. These Canadian boys have been trying to elevate the conversation in pop music for a good four years now, and their message is taking hold. Their name comes from a portmanteau of Aldous Huxley’s seminal novel “Brave New World” and Robert J. Hastings’ inspirational essay “The Station.” Their erudite philosophizing is a far cry from Justin Bieber taking slutty pictures from a hospital bed (“what’s the boy word for slut?”) or even Michael Jackson dangling his baby from a balcony.

All that’s just window-dressing, though; what really matters is whether or not Bravestation makes good music, stuff that can stand up when compared to other pop. And the answer is...almost. The four tracks of their aptly titled EP IV, independently released and out now, are all smoothly delivered from the bright and exciting beats to the inviting if slightly indistinct vocals. Whether Bravestation will catch fire in today’s eminently disposable music world is in question, but they have all the positive elements in place without falling into any of the pits.

“All We Have is Us,” the most optimistic track on a collection of already positive tracks, is also the least catchy. Catchiness is a must for pop, more than any other musical form. Luckily, the other three succeed on that count. “Somewhere We Belong” and especially “Ancient Kids” feature very effective percussion lines; Bravestation keeps a firm hold on the groove throughout IV, which is just what is needed for this brand of danceable radio fodder.

The biggest problem with IV is the complete lack of lyrical and vocal hooks. If a band even bothers to have lyrics at all – and the absence of lyrics are not usually a problem – it needs to make them the star of the show. Here, Bravestation stumbles. This isn’t the fault of vocalist Devin Wilson, whose delivery is part-Pharrell Williams and part-Andy Gibb. And they’re good on content, as well; “Rain Child” in particular contains some great turns of phrase. But if Bravestation wants to compete in the pop realm, they’ll need to step up their game.

Bravestation labels itself “apocalypse pop.” It takes some verbal gymnastics, but a case can be made for that. To see that, we need only return to their name and the novel from which it draws inspiration, “Brave New World.” The nation and time period Huxley’s story takes place in would likely be very enchanted by Bravestation. If the world is heading towards Huxley’s grim and mechanized vision, at least we’ll have good tunes.

Track List:
1. All We Have is Us
2. Somewhere We Belong
3. Ancient Kids
4. Rain Child

Bravestation - IV
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

63 / 100
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