Brasstronaut – Mean Sun
As their clunky name indicates, trumpets aren’t just an occasional adornment in Brasstronaut’s songwriting; they’re its heart. Like debut Mt. Chimaera, the Vancouverites’ second album is principally structured around the warm tones of founding hornblower Bryan Davies, whose parping supplies melody to some tracks, texture to others.
Despite the sextet’s punning moniker, this relatively uncommon focus never sounds gimmicky, with Davies’ band mates chipping in mellow bass lines, reverb-heavy guitar, clarinet, synths and more. Their layered contributions ensure Davies’ elevated role isn’t at the expense of balance, though on occasion, smooth assuredness metastasises into a character-free blandness, a complacency that cries out for some kind of maverick intrusion; something bold and daring to ruffle the record’s sophisticated plumage and inject some soul. But allow such dissatisfactions to drift on, and there’s plenty to admire in Mean Sun’s understated urbanity, particularly its bookends: graceful opener Bounce and shivering finale Mixtape.