Bravery somewhat timid on catchy self-titled debut disc

Andrew Hampp

Credit: Andrew Hampp

You know the dance rock movement has finally hit the mainstream when a band like The Bravery can meet, record an album and draw hundreds of fans to their shows in just over a year.

The Bravery is the umpteenth band to come out of the New York City club scene and find success in the alternative mainstream, having had the way paved for it by Franz Ferdinand and The Killers.

But unlike a majority of their contemporaries, The Bravery at least one secret weapon to help out their catchy yet derivative brand of Depeche Mode-biting synth-pop: its live shows.

Take first single “Honest Mistake,” which combines skittery Casio keyboards with deep, brooding vocals courtesy of lead singer Sam Endicott. On CD, the song is so retro it could confuse people if played at your next 80’s party.

But live — such as during the band’s packed performance at the Agora Ballroom last Tuesday — “Honest Mistake” is a whole ‘nother story. The keyboards were cranked up, Endicott emoted profusely and the guitarists and drummer worked the crowd into a synth-induced fever.

Fans stomped, pumped fists and moshed to the newly proclaimed anthem, and a gaggle of indie boys already dressed as their favorite Bravery member plowed their way to the front of the stage to thrash along with the New York new wavers. “Honest Mistake” was no longer a hit single by a bunch of Johnny Dance Rock-come-latelys, it was a veritable theme song for the new dance rock movement.

Seeing the otherwise OK tracks on The Bravery performed live turned each song into its own mini-event, rather than mildly pleasing dance music you’d hear at The Zephyr or Thursday’s. Like “Fearless,” the band’s upcoming second single, which sounds like a phoned-in American version of a Franz Ferdinand track but becomes an urgent call to arms in front of a large crowd.

Although the lyrics never rise above anything more memorable than “you put the art in retarded,” The Bravery prove both live and on their new CD to have enough chops and stage presence to be worthy of at least some of their deafening industry buzz.

Contact Pop Arts editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].