The Brains

The Brains

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This Georgia-based quartet's story is depressingly familiar enough. After scoring with the sassy cynicism of its indie single, Money Changes Everything, the Brains signed to Mercury for an uncompromising debut album that sank without a trace, for reasons not too hard to fathom. Main songwriter and frontman Tom Gray stakes out the familiar persona of twitchy ├╝ber-nerd who can't get laid, as "Scared Kid" makes obvious. However, Gray's songs disturb instead of divert, which set him above the pack but out of step with record buyers. Some barbed sentiments lie beneath the hooks. "Girl in a Magazine"'s voice disdains true-life desire for the centerfold equivalent, while "Gold Dust Kids" twits the inverted snobbery of local countercultures ("Nobody's counting on you/They know better this time"), and "See Me" recounts a lowly duo's romp through their anonymous downtown playground; its first line ("Shooky, get your glasses on/Shooky, get your gun") ranks among the most memorable openers of any left-field album. "In the Night" and "Sweethearts" sidestep traditional verse-chorus-verse strictures for extended mood pieces built on Gray's claustrophobic, throbbing keyboards. The chunky guitar instrumental "Treason," coltish techno-billy of "Raeline," and a recut "Money Changes Everything" represent the sole concessions to mainstream sensibilities. But not even a new recording of the song that did so much to establish them could sneak the Brains through programmers' back doors. Cyndi Lauper's remake certainly reminded some fans of what they'd missed, but couldn't rescue the band, which had already broken up.

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