The album that Brazil has been threatening to make from the get-go has finally arrived. The Philosophy of Velocity is a natural extension of all that has come before, yet a giant step forward for the band. It's obvious that something's up from the elegant piano and tippity-tapping typewriter instrumental that opens the album, but when the group kicks into "Crime," a dizzying, exhilarating rocker, with just the precise pinch of self-indulgent pomposity to give it that real classic rock feel, it's like fireworks exploding. Sure, most of the elements here were already in place on the band's previous set, A Hostage & the Meaning of Life, but what's catapulted Brazil to the next level is Philosophy's phenomenal production. The sound is absolutely huge, with an incredible vastness that infuses even the sparsest numbers, like the elegant "Au Revoir, Mr. Mercury." But as dense as the set feels, its heft never weighs down the album. This was a popular production style in the classic rock era, especially in the prog scene; now though, it's most consistently heard in roots reggae. Regardless, it perfectly suits Brazil, highlighting the band's dynamics, majestic styling, and keyboard heavy approach. It's especially effective on "Captain Mainwaring," beautifully conjuring up the mariner's underwater world, and works just as well for the extravagant "A Year in Heaven," blowing up the guitars to massive proportions and illuminating the song's "Stairway to Heaven" inspiration. Nothing could better capture the swirling new romantic atmosphere of "The Vapours," nor highlight its twist of a Spanish tinge. The bigger the aural assault, the better the sonic sound. On "Cameo," for example, the ringing, harmonic vocals are splendidly counterpointed by the chiming keyboards. The keyboards reach their apotheosis on "You Never Know," which is equal parts hardcore, hard rock, and classic David Bowie. "Candles" goes for a more post-punk sound, while "Breathe" is an unadulterated alt-rocker, boasting lovely guitar work, an infectious melody, and a lethal chorus. The production inevitably smoothes down Brazil's rougher edges, emphasizing the band's own shift in styles. Upstart indie rockers no more, the group hasn't so much moved into the mainstream, as moved on to a more mature approach. Now boasting a sound as big as Brazil itself, a style as wonderfully extravagant as the movie they named themselves after, the group has taken rock in all its myriad moods to a whole new level, and the band with it.
The Philosophy of Velocity Review
by Jo-Ann Greene