That Daniel Smith supplements his music career as a carpenter is only fitting, as -- Christian imagery aside -- his talent for building enormously complex songs is equaled only by his gift for their demolition. The serpentine melodies on Brother Is to Son weave themselves through staccato bursts of angular post-punk and sentimental musings on everything from consumerism to on-the-job accidents. Smith writes lyrics that reflect his decidedly nonsecular affectations in a conversational -- often childlike -- manner that are alternately charming and chilling. When he exclaims, "The best wine is in the house of my lord and I drink my belly full," on the gothic folk-out "Perennial Wine," the source of his attention is not the wine, but a lover. In fact, much of Brother Is to Son concerns Smith's wandering soul being constantly reminded of its eventual destination -- the three songs that close the record follow a loosely-knit cycle-of-life narrative that includes a chorus of angels doing their damnedest to resurrect the broken artist. The strongest tracks convey the singer's more whimsical side. The feverish opener, "Things Against Stuff," is an electrifying celebration/annihilation of consumerism that bristles with the same manic energy that fueled 2001's Fetch the Compass Kids, and the freight train backbeat of "Animal in Every Corner" sounds like the Birds filtered through a broken kaleidoscope. Despite the weighty subject matter and kinetic mayhem, the Danielson Famile are just an indie pop band, and listeners already familiar with Smith's distinctive shrieking and intricate arrangements will find much to love on Brother Is to Son, while the untested will either submit or run screaming to their mommies.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger