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The Brothers Union deliver an alternative pop/rock juggernaut

In their first official studio album, Pain and the Opposite, New Jersey’s The Brothers Union deliver an alternative pop/rock juggernaut driven by its atmospheric melodies and profoundly personal poetry, and in my book, it just might be one of the best full-lengths of its kind out this summer. Littered with stunners like the divine “A Thousand Tiny Cuts,” kinship-affirming “Brothers,” meaningful “Feel Your Heart” and surprisingly progressive “Scarecrow,” Pain and the Opposite is hardly a limited look into this band’s artistry. From where I sit, this record is a full-color opus that combines the best features from SilhouettesPaper Hearts and Little Blue Room without overstating any one specific theme.

The lumbering “Run,” “Addicted to Your Love” and psychedelic-tinged “Catatonic” each have a strong pop framework, but their surface cosmetics are straight out of post-punk’s most surreal strain (sans the gothic overtones, that is). The Brothers Union definitely flirt with some elements of self-awareness that verge on the willfully exposed and emotional, yet I wouldn’t deem any of these tracks straight emo – including the quaking “The Patient,” which could be the most moving power ballad I’ve listened to in a long time. These guys are painting with too broad a brush to be easily categorized, and to understand what I mean, simply take a look at the complexities within any one of the songs on their new record.

BANDCMAP: https://thebrothersunionband.bandcamp.com/album/pain-and-the-opposite

“Here’s to Better Days” and “The Perfect Storm” boast lead vocals that are ethereally sewn into the fabric of the instrumental melodies, but the seamlessness of the resulting harmony is definitely deliberate in nature as opposed to being the result of a muddied amalgamation in the master mix. I honestly don’t hear any of those kind of oversights here; frankly, I was a little taken aback by how intricately a lot of this material was produced. Despite working with an indie budget, The Brothers Union submit a startlingly masterful collection of songs in Pain and the Opposite, which further reminds their contemporaries that you don’t have to break the bank to break the mold.

After three brooding extended plays that left critics like myself aching for more of their original content, this band have definitely delivered something we’ve all been waiting for in this most recent offering. Pain and the Opposite doesn’t challenge the conventions of pop with overambitious compositional wit, nor does it flout the essential rules of rock with hybridity. This is a statement record from a very gifted band, and hopefully only the first of many such LPs they will share with the world.

John McCall

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