Among Brothers at Electricity Showrooms
The most pressing concern as Among Brothers get ready to go on stage at the Electricity Showrooms is how they are actually going to fit, let alone perform, on the rather small stage. There isn’t much room for the five members of the band and their many instruments, yet they seem well versed in cramming themselves onto stages not quite big enough for a band of their size, and they manage to inject a thrilling sense of urgency and energy into their performance, despite limited room for movement.
Though they’ve not been around for a particularly long time, the Cardiff-based five-piece are beginning to make waves with their brand of theatrical chamber-pop. There’s certainly several familiar styles that run through their music: the subtly off-kilter, densely-orchestrated folk of Grizzly Bear, the cinematic scope and penchant for chanted choruses that made Arcade Fire so popular, and a tangible sense of unity within the band that smacks of Dexys Midnight Runners at their peak.
Comparisons aside, there’s certainly something arresting about the soundscapes created by Among Brothers. New single and set highlight I Am Certain manages to blast through around five different songs over the course of three and a half minutes; wonky piano lines suddenly give way to glitchy electronic beats, morphing into hand claps and vocal chants which spiral and tumble upwards into a climatic catharsis that ultimately collapses into itself as a subdued, mellow and slightly creepy ending. They pull this trick on the vast majority of their songs, shifting and changing them constantly; each track mutating violently before it ends. The problem is, though this approach to song writing is musically engaging and attention-grabbing, it often feels like some Frankenstein amalgamation of bits and pieces stitched together into a wonky shack rather than a sturdy and complete structure.
The songs often lack a strong vocal melody or instrumental motif to cling onto as their structures twist and turn. Featured early on in the set, Keep sounds like Frou Frou funnelled through a bizarre Wicker Man-esque chant, and though Love (which the audience respond to energetically) constantly threatens to grow wings and take off, it never quite finds the energy to do so.
Ultimately, the songs leave you with a feeling of exhaustion at having to keep up with what’s happening musically and technically rather than a wide eyed joy at being guided through the world they build up. Although their performance is all heart, often the music is just too much head.
The show marked not only the first date of Among Brothers’ tour, but also the launch night of their new single. There was certainly a joyous atmosphere in the venue. It seemed that those in attendance were already converts to Among Brothers’ sound, which made the Electricity Showrooms a stimulating environment to watch the band comfortably perform.
There’s no denying that it wasn’t a particularly strong performance from the band, yet their music is certainly interesting and engaging. In order to bring it up a notch they need to develop some focus, instead of relying on the current scatter gun approach to song construction.
Photos: Adam Imiolo
For further information and future events visit Among Brothers’ website here.
Watch the video for I Am Certain here: