Audio Mixers: Chad Copelin; Jarod Evans.
Recording information: Blackwatch, Norman, OK.
BRONCHO's third album, Double Vanity is a major course correction after the disappointment of Just Enough Hip to Be Woman. That album tried to split the difference between their first album's spunky punk bounce and murky, midtempo ballads. It ended up being a confusing mess that was only partially redeemed by the dork pop classic "Class Historian." That's not the case here since they've basically jettisoned any ideas of playing fast, done away with spunk entirely, and settled deeply into a cough-syrupy midtempo groove. Strangely, rather than being a meandering slog where all the songs sound roughly the same, the album works really well and everything fits together like a perfectly crafted puzzle. It's like BRONCHO took all the energy of their faster songs, extracted the immediacy and punch, then slowed it to half speed. Instead of playing the songs slow and dozy, the band sounds tightly coiled and insistent beneath all the gunk. Sharp hooks emerge on a regular basis, sometimes even floating up to the surface in a big shiny bubble, like on "Fantasy Boys" or the lazy summer jam "Highly Unintentional." Throughout the album the band taps into a kind of calm weirdness that gives the songs an off-kilter appeal that really helps them sink in deep. Even tracks with the simplest chord changes ("I Know You") or most plodding rhythms ("All Time") feel like they were beamed in from Mars or some other planet where vocalist Ryan Lindsey's phrasing and pronunciation make sense. Half the fun of the album is listening to the oddball ways he twists words and sounds into his own slack language. The other half is taking up oddly cozy residence in BRONCHO's unique world of underwater doo wop, naptime pop, and energetic inertia. It's a weird place to be for sure, but as the band lays down one slo-mo gem after another, Double Vanity turns out to be a pretty cool place to be after all. ~ Tim Sendra