When Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the radio-friendly synth-rock–turned–glam-Americana quartet the Killers, feels secure assailing your punk authenticity, tiresome questions of credibility cease being much of an issue. Such is the peculiar fate of the Bravery, a band of five Nice Young Men from New York whose painstakingly matted haircuts, meticulously curated T-shirt collections and undying affinity for the English definite article fairly encapsulates the third wave of millennial neo–New Wave. Mr. Flowers’ most damning charge: Bravery front man Sam Endicott and keyboardist John Conway played in an act called Skabba the Hutt (yes, ska-bba) during their undergrad years at Vassar (yes, Vassar).
This week, the Bravery unveil their sophomore album, The Sun and the Moon, which is sunnier and more melodic than their pouty self-titled debut—if only The O.C. were still on the air to feature this stuff!—and evinces a most unique courage in never attempting to live beyond its means. In a corner of the market allegedly dominated by Fall Out Boys and Panic! at the Discos, that’s the makings of an unqualified success.
Which is to say that paint-by-the-numbers is still painting, or at least coloring; Mr. Endicott, voice strained like an American straight-edger imitating a British smoker, sounds more like Julian Casablancas than Julian Casablancas does nowadays, and his fans are a lot less likely to be ironically sincere twentysomething music journalists , as opposed to the sincerely ironic bright teenaged things this music’s supposed to be about in the first place. No, if you took the SAT’s before they were scored out of 2,400, you probably won’t understand—but then again, you’re probably also old.
For the Princeton Review crowd and the young at heart, the Bravery play two shows at Irving Plaza next week (Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m.). Attend for ethnographic reasons, but prepare to go native; it’s hard not to when the tribe’s uniformly dewy-faced and –eyed and singing along to lines like “Whenever I look back / on the best days of my life / I think I saw them all on TV” (from shimmery current single “Time Won’t Let Me Go”). So knowingly putting on airs of knowingness: Only rock-snob muggles would object, and they’ll be irrelevant soon enough.
Or, as “Mrs. D. Malfoy” writes on the Bravery’s MySpace page, “The new album is beautiful. I cried when I heard the 3 song sampler, & now hearing the whole album is absolutely overwhelming. This is going down in history …. ”
Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, http://www.irvingplaza.com
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