Brisbane management outfit Mucho Bravado have got it down. Initially appearing in my inbox courtesy of my signing up for a free download of their first big-breaking artist (a band amongst my five favourite of 2010), Hungry Kids of Hungary, they subsequently impressed both J and I with their efforts for indie geeksters Ball Park Music and continued popping up everywhere with links to the powerful Emma Louise, too. Now I find out that they’re doing PR for my latest unsigned Serious Brisbane Interest, Art Of Sleeping and it seems pertinent to just ask them to give me a call any time they sign a contract with an artist so I can establish my listening patterns in advance and get over this whole discovery-infatuation-research-promotion nonsense that currently occupies my life.
At least with ‘Empty Hands’, someone over at Mucho Bravado should have picked up the courage to drop me a line. There was almost no way I was not going to dig this song. The floor toms at the outset and Bouletian falsetto harmonies should have been a dead giveaway. The moodiness perpetuated by those solemn drums, augmented by a chilling vocal melody is enough to pique the interest and then we’re thrown immediately into the thick of a tale of debauchery, introduced to a woman with lips ‘red from too much…’ But before the object of her desire is revealed, the song lurches into a wall of shrieking guitars until they too give way to some semblance of normalcy with a military-style drum beat setting the pace and we think we might get something of a verse. Alas! The chorus arrives, as defiant and emotive as you could imagine, supplemented by brash cymbal splashes and the same truncated phrasing that rules throughout, pushing and pulling the listener along.
And yet, even with its hyperactive structure and penchant for leaving sentences unfinished, ideas uncapped, ‘Empty Hands’ strikes me as one of the most honest portrayals of love in song in recent times. Where Roland Barthes dedicated an entire volume to debunking conventional thinking on the subject, Art Of Sleeping’s single is an affirmation of the inadequacy of words – and often music – to do justice to the complexities of the sentiment. Love songs are frequently straightforward and ebullient, often tortured and morose, but ‘Empty Hands’ is really wonderful in demonstrating that far from two sides to a coin, there are many more approximations of the emotion in between. Parallels have been drawn to The Temper Trap who, themselves, poignantly dealt with a number of ‘Conditions‘ but rarely engaged in the sort of turbulence that ‘Empty Hands’ promotes. This is thinking man’s music with all the pop niceties you’d expect plus dashes of rock and singer-songwriter earnestness. I get the message Mucho. Get your people to call my people.
Art Of Sleeping – Empty Hands