Brave Irene

Brave Irene

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AllMusic Review by

Rose Melberg's CV is unimpeachable. From Tiger Trap and the Softies through to her recent run of solo albums, she has put together a body of work that stands as a beacon of quality to fans of low-key, emotionally true indie pop. In late 2009, Melberg got together with four friends, put together a band called Brave Irene, and moved away from the quiet introspection of her solo albums into something a little more electric. The group is highly influenced by the sounds that came out of New Zealand in the late '80s and early '90s, most specifically, the all-female group Look Blue Go Purple, but also bands like the Chills and the Bats. Built on quickly strummed electric guitars, rolling rhythms, and later a swirling organ, the sound of their too-brief debut EP is rich and alluring. Especially when Melberg's enchantingly sweet vocals are added to the mix. Whether singing alone or in harmony with the other members of the group, she sounds just as purely innocent and knowing as she did when she first began playing in bands some 20-plus years previously. The songs on the EP are reliably melancholy and intimate, the drive and rumble of the backing band give them an extra kick. The organs (as played by Jessica Wilkin and Caitlin Gilroy) especially help make the sound special, and unique in Melberg's catalog. It’s nice to hear her voice playing off the whirl and hum of the keys. Any of the tracks here could be plucked as mixtape highlights, though "No Fun," with it’s breathtaking harmonies and super sad melody, jumps out a bit after the first listen. The bouncy "Good Ideas" is another. Hopefully, Melberg will stick with Brave Irene for awhile. The EP stands with the best of her work to date, and that's saying a lot.

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