Brat Curse writes in earworms. That’s the only logical conclusion you can come to after listening to the Columbus, Ohio quartet’s new self-titled outing, which features hooky blasts of noisy and multidimensional punk-pop. The record’s available now.
It’s hard, to some degree at least, to pin down Brat Curse’s sound. At one point, say on the rapid-fire guitar-driven assault of “Blink and It’s Gone,” the band resembles a more nuanced Pegboy or, if you’re an aficionado of rawk of the Ohio variety, kind of Bodine-era Brainiac, minus all Timmy Taylor’s fizz and flashiness. Elsewhere [as on the excellent “It’s On (Until It’s Not)”] they hint at the finer points of 90s-rock and even Nirvana-era grunge, or more contemporary outfits that imbue their distorted guitars and angular descents with engaging melodies. (I’m thinking here of the defunct New Jersey trio Black Wine.)
But these guys are interested in presenting a record chock full of dimension and lots of different colors, and they succeed time and again. The muted “Go Down,” with its noisy ambience and almost post-rock-ish lead refrains, the weirdo ballad “Sobriety Butcher,” and the textured power-pop “Acid Capsule Tina” (it erupts, like a raging Weezer impersonator, only after the subtle acoustic-ballad opening) are surprising but welcome additions. The vicious and viciously good “Freak Net,” whose verses are wonderful palm-muted creatures but whose choruses sweat shrapnel, is a Ric Ocasek song as played by Fugazi.
Brat Curse also is culled from impressive pedigree. Brothers Brian Baker (guitar/vocals) and Justin Baker (bass), who formed the band in 2014 with drummer/vocalist Chris Mengerink, also play in DANA, Sega Genocide and WV White. (Writing for MusicTAP, I recently gave a glowing review to DANA’s Glowing Auras and Black Money, for what it’s worth.) It’s worth noting because the band is leading the charge on what could be called an Ohio “sound” right now. These guys might descend from Brainiac – shit, they even paid tribute to the reference with an awesome and reverent cover of “Ride” on a 2016 7-inch single – but they have a sound that’s wholly their own. And, if you’re willing to give it a spin, it will ignite your turntable like goddamn wildfire.