Family Is For Sharing

You will know them by their befuddled grins and their dozy thousand-yard stare.

You will know them by their befuddled grins and their dozy thousand-yard stare. They are Brothers In Sound, and once, we suspect, they were your common-or-garden indie kids. But somewhere along the way, there has been an awakening.

It almost certainly involved a psychedelic experience And quite possibly bubble machines, water slides and strobe lights. Yet happily, Bournemouth three-piece Brothers In Sound are not hippies. The opening robotic twinkle of 'Journey Song' might hint at the misty electronica of, say, Boards Of Canada, but 'Family Is For Sharing' is an altogether more playful prospect. Picture the eddying currents and wave-battered beaches of ambient music. And then, build a whoppin' great big Butlin's amusement arcade slap-bang on top of it.

The Brothers mark the point where the whole concept of 'band' pulls hard on a joint, splutters throatily and collapses into dizzy hysterics. No frontman. No drummer. All hands on deck. Eternally adolescent and relentlessly eclectic, this is a cheerfully loose-knit approach to the making of pop music.

It's initially galling, then, that the spirit of cynical rehash should raise its head. 'Family Is For Sharing' is less a debut album, more a cunningly packaged compilation of the Brothers' first three EPs - 'Barelyafterawake', 'Just Like A Day', and 'The High And Low Show'. The two remixes rather lamely included as, ahem, 'incentive' are singularly pointless; Twisted Nerve artist Sirconical turns out a forgettable remix of 'Journey Song', and the crunchy Aphex Twinnery of Wauvenfold's take on 'Sleep Again' covers well-trodden ground. Worse still, they take the album to a sprawling, and thoroughly unfocused 69 minutes in length.

Thankfully, the high points, they are many. At its best, 'Family Is For Sharing' excels with the odd gem of futuristic space-pop of the sort that Blur so memorably botched on '13'; 'Hey You', for one, sounds like Graham Coxon locked in a flotation tank with a member of Tangerine Dream - all lost-little-boy vocals and rusty, lo-fidelity drum loops. And there's no heel-kicking, indie-schmindie crisis of confidence on 'Journey Song', which sets its co-ordinates to the horizon in the grand spirit of Kraftwerk's 'Autobahn', or 'Brothers Go Down' - which tries, and almost succeeds in envisaging a breakbeat Mercury Rev. Where Albarn and friends forced it, Brothers In Sound feel it. Magnificently.

But oh, for some clarity. If the Brothers were real siblings, you'd doubtless hear a voice of discipline - you'd feel the Gallagher-esque sharp edges that still make Oasis an ever-entertaining prospect now that the spark's long since burnt out. Not here; long-familiar tracks drift by, a sedative retread of Brothers In Sound's past achievements. Bless them, just occasionally, the Brothers offer a far-sighted glance outside the normal clod-hopping parameters of indie. But 'Family Is For Sharing', it just yawns, closes its sleep-encrusted eyes, and drifts into slumber. Here's to another awakening.
7 / 10

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