Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have arrived on the almighty Matador Records with The Brutalist Bricks, a nonstop work of musical expertise. It’s a beautiful thing to hear veterans of a genre sounding so fresh and new. And it’s not just Ted Leo’s songwriting (though that is quite strong) — The Pharmacists cannot go unnoticed. They play with fierce determination, confident in their ability and exploiting it to its most grandiose and powerful. Chris Wilson plays the drum with such rich force there are constant moments of having to stop and gawk at the sound coming from the speaker. And that’s not even to speak of the guitar solos, which tear forth from the 1970s to take stake in the fresh modern California alt-punk sound that dominates nearly all the tracks.
There isn’t a song here I don’t enjoy, but special attention must be paid to “Even Heroes Have To Die,” “Bottled In Cork,” “One Polaroid A Day,” “Tuberculoids Arrive In Hop,” and “Gimme The Wire” (with an amazing Allman Brothers-esque guitar solo). That’s five tracks that are better than great; an amazing number, really. I find most great albums walk away with around three standout tracks and a strong remainder. But here, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists pack so much punch and life into every track, its hard not to fall in love with too many. And when no songs overstay their welcome, you’ll find yourself continually revisiting tracks and enjoying them more the second time around. From the hard punk of “The Stick” to the final shaking and rattling out of “Last Days,” this is exciting, fun, and enjoyable music.
If this review feels like I’m trying to sell the album, I am — as springtime arrives, take a sunny day, get in your car or go for a walk, and bring this album along. You will feel great inside and before you know it, be tapping your feet and singing along. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have crafted an irresistible masterpiece.
(Matador Records, 304 Hudson, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10013)