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Album Review

The Bravery, 'Stir the Blood'

November 30, 2009

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Rock
The Bravery Stir the Blood
Island
ESSENTIAL “The Spectator’’

The Bravery’s adrenaline-rush, retro-new-wave/punk rock is back with a flourish. The album is a sonic high, but a mixed bag of lyrical ups and downs. Singer-writer Sam Endicott has rarely sounded so twisted and confused. He was shaken by the attempted suicide of his girlfriend and has admitted that some songs are “darker, stranger’’ than before. That includes the scarifying “Jack O’Lantern Man’’ (with the spit-out line, “If you could see the rage in me/ I could cut my veins and drown you in the flames’’). Endicott and mates are more hopeful on the pulsing “The Adored’’ (about a couple who stay together despite losing everything in Hurricane Katrina) and the intimately appealing, if edgy, “I Am Your Skin.’’ There is a surplus of angst on this record - sometimes Endicott sounds like Bono with a gutter mouth or Bowie after a depressing philosophy class - but the guitar-fueled, synth-topped rhythms still churn mightily enough to blow away any ill winds. (Out tomorrow) -- STEVE MORSE