Testing the Waters
“And we will dance so carefully,” Rachael Cantu sings on the track “Carefully” – a good representation of what this EP sounds like. Their latest EP, titled Desire, is well-produced with all the right aesthetics: layers of clean, vibrant vocals; upbeat instrumentation and placements of little melodies, nestled in just the right spots. Their immediate sound is fresh. But listeners might find something lacking in Desire – that bold, possibly risky moment, that bridge that stands out, or that hook that shows their confidence. Desire is charming, poppy, and light. The talent is there – but it seems that Little Brutes are dancing a little too carefully on this release.
The last time we heard Little Brutes, it was on their self-titled EP, full of happily-picked acoustics, and toe-tappy melodies. But it’s hard to find footprints of that sound on Desire – the majority of the new EP showcases their talented production. What you’ll find on Desire are lots of echoey-snaps and clicks, roped together with some synths and grounding bass (almost every track, except “Wait For Me”, opens with this type of progression: we hear a fuller, deeper establishing tune, then it’s accented with all the sugary claps and snares, then the track rolls along and unravels). All of this is very pleasant to listen to. One might draw some similarities to Haim, with their layered voices and polished production – although, Little Brutes lack Haim’s sizzling guitar work, a kind packed with attitude; head-bobbing and raw.
But the potential is there. Cantu’s vocals need to break free of repetitive hooks, which, can be pleasant and upbeat, but one gets the sense that she should let her voice loose. We see some good moments:”Make Our Own Way” has a catchy guitar arrangement, scaling up and down as the track goes along, and on the track “Real Thing”, Cantu’s voice shines, as it’s given a spotlight – not drowned out in a kind of chorusy vibe. But all of this is fine – the layering, the hooks – it’s all good, none of it bad. Perhaps they’re testing the waters with this EP, a calmer version of what’s to come. As it is, however, Little Brutes need to take more risks and more chances – it would be nice to hear some instrument variety, or faster pacing (most of the EP just trots along, not speedily). For the meantime, listeners should be content with Desire‘s easy-going sound.