REVIEW: Brenda – “Night School”

Night School

Brenda aren’t the easiest band to describe to friends and family. I mean, on the surface I guess you could quickly explain them as “indie pop” or something, but these folks are seemingly onto something much deeper than an arbitrary label. Their latest album Night School is more evidence of a band doing otherworldly things with a (mostly) conventional set up.  I put “mostly” in parentheses because their atypical two-drummer configuration, a unique design in a four piece “indie pop” band.

Ugh, there’s that generalization again: “indie pop.”  Sure, on the surface their music is mostly catchy and upbeat, but once you peel back a few layers a retro sci-fi vibe is revealed.  I’m hearing the dancey, imaginative feeling I get when listening to The B-52’s; I’m getting the same feeling I get while getting immersed in the inventive weirdo rock with Oingo Boingo; and yeah, I can definitely hear a bit of the sci-fi/horror punk heard in the catchier side of The Misfits.  Whether they are aware of it or not, and regardless if it was intentional, Brenda has seemingly thrown three of my favorite bands into a punk rock blender in order to create one of my favorite albums of 2016.

Night School opens up with “Autoreply,” an upbeat number that works for me as a surfed up Oingo Boingo inspiration. The vocals from Matt Horne are really overplayed and hammy ala Danny Elfman, and when you serve that over the dancetastic surf beats and hard hitting drums you get something that could play in the background of an 80’s science fiction film. The vibe shifts with “Top Shelf” which is much more of a conventional pop song that emits a vibe of relentless fun-having and good times. Yes, please.

The title track maintains the that enthusiasm as an infectious toe-tapping jam that at one point unleashes a plentiful bounty of “ooh ooh’s” and “shala la la’s.”  At this point, I’m truly smiling from ear to ear as I know I’ve found my new favorite hot track.  The closer, titled “Frogtown Brawl” is a straightforward rocker with harmonizing guitars and light synthesizer keeping me titilated and slightly aroused until the very end of the album.

At this point, I’ve already flipped my cards and revealed my hand: I fucking love this album.  I should also mention that Brenda are an amazing live band, so if you haven’t already, be sure to check them out as soon as you can.  In the mean time, listen to Night School below: