When Glasgow-based popsters Bricolage released their debut single â€œFootstepsâ€ in 2006, they got it just right on the first try. Recalling legendary countrymen such as Orange Juice and Aztec Camera, Bricolage crafted one of the finest Scot-pop singles to have been released in a good while. Its clean and crisp guitars were post-punk gold. Its slightly disco-leaning beat lent it a danceable sensibility. And that extra touch of steel drum made the song prime for heavy summertime rotation. The only problem would be to follow it up.
Thankfully, that wasnâ€™t a problem at all. Three years after the release of that magnificent debut single, Bricolage have assembled 12 ultra-fun tracks on their debut, self-titled album, produced by former Altered Images guitars Stephen Lironi, no less. Not all of them reach the heights of â€œFootsteps,â€ and quite frankly, it remains the albumâ€™s highest peak. That said, the group comes awfully close on several occasions, and even when they donâ€™t, theyâ€™re still playing top-notch jangle pop with sublime melodies and hooks that stick around for days.
The energy runs high throughout this 35-minute set, launching out of the gates with the giddy leadoff track â€œBayonets,â€ part Teenage Fanclub and part Supergrass. Vocalists Graham Wann and Wallace Meek harmonize carefree lines like â€œlife is a cabaret,â€ and the songâ€™s dramatic piano flourishes back up the sentiment nicely. â€œFlowers of Deceitâ€ is a bit funkier, but still maintaining that crisp and sparkling guitar tone that prevails throughout. Yet the song achieves a greater sense of excitement during the agitated tremolo breaks during the chorus. Swooning ballad â€œPlots Are For Cemeteriesâ€ has a touch of â€œThe Smithsâ€ in its romantic melody, and â€œLooting Takes the Waiting Out of Wantingâ€ turns petty theft into a handclapping, harmonized celebration.
The organ-fueled post-punk soul of â€œA Terrible Souvenirâ€ is bolstered by a bold and brassy horn section, while â€œTurn U Over,â€ also an earlier single, presents two minutes and 23 seconds of the albumâ€™s most impeccable hooks and harmonies. In fact, were I not already briefed, I might have guessed it an obscure Postcard single from the mid-80s. In a surprising turn of events, Bricolage turns up the fuzz on â€œ6th Form Poet,â€ yet somehow maintains their charming, pristine pop sound, not a bit grungier for the wear. Closing out the album is â€œThe Waltzers,â€ a Northern Soul-influenced track with a sinister bassline backing up its otherwise cheery exterior. That thereâ€™s such a heavy stomp at the back end of the album ensures that it ends with a little extra oomph, and a great track to boot.
On their first full-length outing, Bricolage take some heavy cues from their Scot-pop predecessors, and who can blame them, really? The shades of Orange Juice and Teenage Fanclub are merely part of the picture, however, and on these 12 songs, Bricolage put their own impeccably arranged spin on jangle pop, with every vocal harmony, tightly wound bassline, handclap and dancefloor-ready beat in its place. Holding true to the promise of their incredible debut single, the band has offered up one awfully impressive first album.
Orange Juice – Rip It Up
Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.