“T-Minus Grand Gesture”
by Chad Jewett
Gently insistent, like waves on a lake, “T-Minus Grand Gesture,” the title track of a forthcoming EP from Ann Arbor emo philosophers Brave Bird, is a lovely four-and-a-half minutes of slow-dissolve melody and reedy, spangling guitars. Arriving as a follow-up to 2012’s essential Maybe You, No One Else Worth It (one of the finest, most meditative albums of emo’s recent renaissance), “T-Minus” builds upon that album’s complex design of inter-folding harmonies, tangled ribbons of algebraic guitar, and hooks designed as economically deployed confessions. Like the best moments on Maybe You, “T-Minus Grand Gesture” manages to be at once both ruminative and expressive, tying difficult explications of interpersonal politics to near-elemental hooks. Carrying on the most salient breakthroughs of their debut album, Brave Bird have honed their aesthetic to a cutting, poignant edge.
Now the melodies are even more spry (especially during a fuzz-wash bridge in the song’s third minute in which Chris Lieu’s already striking melody begins to refract and expand, collecting captivating grace notes) and Brave Bird are more confident than ever in their commitment to memorable expressions and weighty asides, repeating sentences until they gain significance and meaning like self-deprecating mantras (“’Cause I do what I do just to make you feel good / Does that mean I should? Does that mean I should?”). There are also subtle innovations in the song’s structure, as drummer Mark Buckner gives the song a gently rolling groove, as parts don’t so much build as slowly phase into one another like hours of the day. Brave Bird have already proven themselves one of punk’s most thoughtful bands; “T-Minus Grand Gesture” is a crystallization of how good the Michigan quartet is at making the cerebral sound compulsively listenable.