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The Brunettes’ sophomore album takes a risk and mellows out

Katherine Greenspon | Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Zealand’s edgy, indie pop duo, The Brunettes, recently released their new album “Paper Dolls.” Their passion for songwriting and their natural ability to belt a tune is obvious in this album, which is packed full of light melodies and catchy instrumental sound.
This pop group is original and fresh with both Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield playing off one another beautifully in every track. The album opens with the song “In Colours,” introducing their brilliant usage of the drums and chimes, which offer the listeners both heavy and light beats.

This 10-track CD is a joy to listen to because of the duo’s easy-going lyrics and simple approach. Jonathan Bree shows off his drum machine sound with the assistance of Heather Mansfield’s smooth, charismatic voice. In songs like “Connection” and “Red Rollerskates,” listeners get a different electronic sound that entices the occasional head bob. Electronic elements are being tested throughout this album as both artists intertwine their sweet, light voices with chimes that give the songs an airy feel.

Their songs offer a storyline that, if paid attention to, can be easily followed. Mansfield’s rhythmic voice in “The Crime Machine” illustrates passion and excitement with every verse as she pretends to live out her 1920s dream of being a “Queenpin.” “Bedroom Disco” is one track that would thrive at a house party scenario, with a guitar tremolo and various arrangements of imagination and pitch variations.

This album is a continuation from previous works but stays true to their upbeat, fun and celebrated works, which vocalists and instrumentalists have been known for. The album has a sort of fantasy effect with an array of electronic buzz and a childish undertone. Every song on this album seems to glorify the appreciation of a simple melody. With simple tambourine and guitar solos the whimsical duo does an extraordinary job in swaying their voices to mesh perfectly.

This album is an easy listen that can calm or relax any stressful soul during finals. “If I” is only one of the many songs on this album that could act as a harmonic lullaby. The simple trickle of trumpet and synthesizers gives the effect of a dreamer with its creative tone and subtle vocals.

It appears that The Brunettes are wandering from their comfortable cute pop to a more instrumental and technological kind of work. Their playful usage of keyboard and music technology achieves a more modern and humming sound that shows their progression as artists. This album has wide-spread appeal with songs like “It’s Only Natural” which begins with an almost islander feel that leaves people in a mellow state of mind.

Fans of this band should thank them for once again delivering a masterpiece of eclectic songs that embrace instruments like the xylophone.  This indie band versatile, and not afraid to try to new styles and beats. The Brunettes has a special air about them that is refreshing yet risky. They don’t play by the norms of popularity, they write about what inspires them and telling stories through song is their specialty. The Brunettes not only sing but they incorporate synth and other unique sounds that tie all their work together.
Hearing about artists who step out of their comfort zones is refreshing and appreciated. The Brunettes have come a long way since their first album, “Mars Loves Venus” EP in 1998 so keep your eyes out for this dynamic duo as they continue to share their music with the masses.