Brutal and merciful. Sharp and clean as a blade. For three years, [a]Radar Bros.[/a] have been quietly honing the follow-up to their fragile first LP, rebuilding their foundations after a disintegrating record label left them in freefall. It’s no surprise that the product of their toil has been embraced by Chemikal Underground, for here are songs of imperturbable poise and majestical sadness.
[a]Radar Bros.[/a] may share a certain attitude with other bands on CU’s roster, yet it’s the taut and lashing beauty of fellow Americans The Webb Brothers that ‘The Singing Hatchet’ most resembles. This is because [a]Radar Bros.[/a] (who are not, incidentally, brothers at all) are drawing from the same well of inspiration as the winsome Webbs – namely ‘Revolver’-era Beatles, Neil Young, Big Star. Yet, out of these somewhat hackneyed prototypes, [a]Radar Bros.[/a] have fashioned something uncommonly vibrant.
Most remarkable is the album’s sophisticated minimalism. Just as opener ‘Tar The Roofs’ glides along on a warm hum of acoustic guitar and stray piano, the 11 songs that follow are wound tightly around intimate harmonies and judicious percussion. But though the musical span may be slim, the emotional breadth is gaspingly vast.
In an age dominated by technology, it’s easy to forget that cathedrals were built with only the simplest of tools. [a]Radar Bros.[/a] offer us a humble reminder.