Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks

January 01, 1970





“What about the voice of Geddy Lee?” once pondered an indie
rock wise man. Well, from the sound of “The Mighty Sparrow”, the opening track
off The Brutalist Bricks (Matador),
the outstanding new album from Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, it seems as though the
Washington DC-by-way-of-Brooklyn-by-way-of-North Jersey punk great swallowed it
whole (significantly when he hits that high note at the end). But don’t think
PhX has gone all Rush on us here, kids.


In fact, this taut, tight collection of 13 songs that make
up the DNA of The Brutalist Bricks find
Leo’s trademark indie punk sound getting the major kick in the ass it so
desperately needed, especially after 2004’s underwhelming Shake The Sheets and 2007’s disappointing Living Among The Living left a sour taste in the mouths of fans
pining for the glory days of Hearts of
.  Elements of folk, only
previously touched upon by Leo in the past, are more prominent on several of
these tracks, particularly on “Bottled in Cork”, a song that laments being an
American overseas during the Bush presidency, and the vaguely psychedelic
“Tuberculoids Arrive in Hop”. Elsewhere, “Mourning In America” employs the
faux-electro throb that confirms Leo’s recent admittance to being a big Daft
Punk fan, while “One Polaroid A Day” offers up the romantic white funk of
vintage Orange Juice.  Then, of course,
you have your classic PhX rave-ups like “Woke Up Near Chelsea” and “Gimme The
Wire”, jam-packed with crunchy, four-to-the-floor riffs and Leo’s indelible, sentence-busting
lyrical agenda tying it all together (albeit glistened with a power pop sheen
that is far more Stiff  Records than


It sounds as though Teddy boy is out to take over what’s
left of the rock radio airwaves with The
Brutalist Bricks
. And, in a perfect world, we’d be hearing songs like “Even
Heroes Have To Die” and “Last Days” ad
on the FM dial than Nickelback and the Foo Fighters. Because not
only is this his best album to date, it’s a strong candidate for one of the
finest full-lengths of 2010.  Needless to
say, this man is ready for the big time.




“The Mighty Sparrow”, “Bottled In Cork”,
“Woke Up In Chelsea”,
“One Polaroid A Day” RON HART


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