The Bravery tried to expand their new wave-inspired dance-rock on The Sun and the Moon with decidedly mixed results: for every experiment that broadened their music, another left them sounding completely out of their element. With Stir the Blood, they return to the style they know best -- in fact, they may be even more emphatically shiny and electronic here than they were on their debut. Bravery frontman Sam Endicott co-produced the album with John Hill (who has also worked with Shakira and Santigold), and they coat Stir the Blood in a sheen that suits the band's more pop-oriented writing. These songs are pared down to the sharpest hooks and the most earworm-like choruses -- all the better to let the fizzing electronics take over, especially on "I Have Seen the Future," which cruises along on a shuffle beat and laser-tag synths; meanwhile, "The Spectator"'s brooding comes wrapped in a sleek pop coating. When the Bravery switch to rock, as on "Hatef--k" and "Jack-O'-Lantern Man," Endicott's yelp gets a little strained. However, Stir the Blood's slower side allows the band to stretch a little without sounding forced. The single "Slow Poison" evokes Heroes-era Bowie, "She's So Bendable" reboots the fuzzed-out chug of the Velvet Underground, and "Sugar Pill" closes Stir the Blood with narcotic bliss. Even on its mellower moments, the Bravery sound more excited about making music on this album than they have since their debut, making Stir the Blood a fine return to form.
Stir the Blood Review
by Heather Phares