Built to Be Brought Down

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You never know what to expect from a record on the Lujo label, do you? Well, that's not completely true -- you know that much of the time you can expect about an hour's worth of hellacious noise. But then they pull a fast one on you. The front cover of Brahm's second album (first for Lujo) features a painting of a semi-nude woman in an attitude of despair, and the back cover lists songs with titles like "Out of the Ashes of Destruction," "Catacombs," and "Night's Hollow Stare." Expecting a less funny version of, say, Lightning Bolt, you put the disc in the player and -- surprise! You get a sometimes harsh but generally funky and even lighthearted mix of sounds, an album in which even the crunchiest track has a sweet candy center. That's not to say that everything is exactly cheerful, or even that everything is exactly interesting: a few of these tracks fall flat, notably the aimlessly jazzy retro-funk of "Next Time, Fists Will Fly" and the even more aimless and less funky "Wings Like Razors." But "The Stars in Your Hair" offers a nice, long excursion into glitchy drum'n'bass with orchestral samples, "The Skull" offers the opportunity to dance a jig if you're so inclined (and listen carefully enough to suss out the time signature), and "A Chandelier of a Man" creates a mood of quiet, strangely off-kilter contemplation. Definitely worth hearing overall.

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