The Brunettes

Structure and Cosmetics (Sub Pop)

How twee is too twee?

If you listen to "Stereo (Mono Mono)," the second song on The Brunettes' new album, Structure and Cosmetics, you may have your answer. Whereas some might be mildly amused or charmed by the kitschy pillow talk found at the beginning of this track, others will be instantly repulsed. Unfortunately, I fell into the latter category. Sure, the disc recovered with some decent songs—especially the very cool, synth-heavy "Her Hairagami Set"—but the damage had already been done.

This New Zealand husband-and-wife duo (Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield) are as cute as a button and, not surprisingly, produce plenty of harmless, AM-radio-inspired pop songs. If it weren't for the hundreds of cute bands that followed Belle and Sebastian down the twee-hole, I'd probably think this was pretty great and original. But, really, it's just a retread of a retread. If you want to check out a truly impressive and original New Zealand band, look no further than The Brunettes' comedic Sub Pop label mates, Flight of the Conchords.

 
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