Bed on Bricks - Humanarium - Safe and solid rock

2006-03-29 19:13
 

Bed on Bricks' Humanarium is a tightly blended, snappy Cape Town rock album that's all about the trendiness, funniness and funkiness of the Cape Town city centre. It's infused with the emptiness of a place that, like New York or Paris perhaps, is its own subculture rather than a cultural capital representing the country. Thoughtful rather than evocative, Humanarium's lyrics are a mix of loose dialogue, impressions, and philosophy.

There's something about South African rock: while it may remind you oddly of some big overseas bands (hey, everyone has influences), it also has something distinctive about it that's hard to pinpoint. A certain kind of guitar strum, maybe? There's that. Also an awkward ska meets folk rock vocal attack that seems rough on the throat. A strange looseness that's far from sloppy. A lazy kind of pogo-jumping lead singer stage style.

Bed on Bricks are musically very accomplished - Dave van der Linden is one of the best guitarists I've heard live in years. The arrangements are intelligent, production is solid (you can actually hear the words, too), the songs are meaningful and interesting, upbeat. "Humanarium" and "Low fly" immediately impress.

But unfortunately, nothing here is particularly moving. Perhaps this is a matter of personal taste, because I think much depends on whether or not you like Mike Hardy's lizard-like vocals. His voice is prominent in the mix, and at times sounds a little strained, rough and ready, and occasionally unnatural. Sure, Bed on Bricks get the job done. Unfortunately, they just don't do it for me.

- Jean Barker

WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID:

Bed On Bricks impeccably portrays the cleverly disguised angst-filled mind of the loner, but this band is equally competent in showing how bloody great it is to be alive.
- Carina Laubscher for Amuzine

Individual tracks are quite enjoyable, but as an album, it lacks that special something to keep the listener hooked.
- Leon Muston for The Herald


Bed on Bricks are trendy, tight, and unimpeachably professional. But do they have that special something that makes a rock band "great"? That is the question, and perhaps the answer is just a matter of personal taste.

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