Moneybrother | They’re Building Walls Around Us (Sabot)

With the proper intent, strain, and dedication, a good pop musician can eventually break your heart.


cd_moneybrotherAnders Wendin, the Stockholm-based motivating force behind Moneybrother, says that, "When on stage or recording, I want it to be very big and beautiful, even bigger and more beautiful than I really am." This sort of romanticism belies the fantastic aura surrounding Wendin's ego-altering project, which comes on the heels of his pre-'03 days with hard-punk outfit Monster.

Beginning with the ostensibly pretentious pose donning Moneybrother's first North American album cover, the Swedish Grammy Awards winner for best rock album (2003 debut Blood Panic) deftly plays the part of Springsteen, both in iconic appearance and melody. No doubt the standout of the They're Building Walls Around Us EP, "Reconsider Me," evokes "Born to Run"-esque Boss material with the candor of Joe Strummer if he were impersonating Levon Helm.

Remarkably, though, the prospect of self-awareness never seems to be a factor, perhaps due to the undeniable truth in the heart of Wendin's organic crooning. Parts Soul Man and Dancing Queen, Moneybrother is unquestionably driven by the beautiful desperation in Wendin's voice, lyrically addressing regret and joy with engaging simplicity. On the title track, however, revelation seems to be in the demur when he says, "Sadly, I gave up, I know/ I was out of options with nowhere left to go." The real shame here is that Moneybrother's lack of apologies for its ambitious bigness has surely limited the possibility for overseas exposure.

What the rock scene (as we know it) lacks in adventurism, Wendin makes up for in the throws of this exposé, touching upon reggae, gospel, and rhythmic vehemence, all while weaving grandiose string arrangements. The latter affectation is, admittedly, a recent obsession, as well as a source of frustration for Wendin. On the other hand, this habit is the one consistency that allows for Moneybrother's genre jumping without the risk of alienating its audience.

While it may seem that Wendin's penchant for grandeur is a bit pretentious, there's an underlying quality of sorrow that echoes in his voice. This notion serves as a reminder that Moneybrother's occasionally cliched lyrical content is simply a backbone to an otherwise disparate source of melodies, drawn outward and digging for raw emotion (as opposed to knee-jerk pop reactions). They're Building Walls Around Us is merely a six-track collection, but it does more than provide an understanding of the Moneybrother project thus far. In spite of, and as a result of Wendin's consummate showmanship, it becomes apparent that with the proper intent, strain, and dedication, a good pop musician can eventually break your heart. A | Dave Jasmon

RIYL: Pulp, Bruce Springsteen (seriously, listen to "Reconsider Me"), and the Clash's non-existent Abba phase

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