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The Brunettes

Genre: Pop

Country of Origin: New Zealand

The Brunettes are Heather Mansfield - vocals, keyboards, glockenspiel, xylophone, clarinet; and Jonathan Bree - vocals, guitar.

They have released 4 full albums: Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks (2002); Mars Loves Venus (2004); Structure and Cosmetics (2008); and Paper Dolls (2009); along with 2 EPs: The Boyracer EP, and When Ice Met Cream.

From their MySpace:

The Brunettes have always been meticulous about their craft in the studio. Writing pop songs, that most fickle of forms, requires a precision that comes naturally, making their records ring perfection in every note. See: the 60’s-meets-80’s psych-pop bliss of early favourite “The Moon in June Stuff”; the hyper-aware boy/girl vocals of “Loopy Loopy Love”; the next-level grandiose celebration that is “B-A-B-Y (Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth)”. Each is a testament to just how much joy can be squeezed within the confines of a pop song.

Sense of fun firmly intact with new record Paper Dolls, The Brunettes have managed to build on previous work without sacrificing the aesthetic that has gained such wide-spread acclaim, instead injecting their new batch of songs with a sense of modernity. Opener “In Colours” and closer “Thank You” are entrance and exit into this world, as both sit comfortably with previous efforts; in between, however, principle songwriter Jonathan Bree has augmented his pop leanings with drum machines and an intimidatingly wide array of synths to fantastic effect.

Lyrically, the album combines clever call-and-response levity, an undercurrent of smouldering romance, and a penchant for idiosyncratic storytelling. All are on display in lead single “Red Rollerskates”, which finds Jonathan and (Brunettes co-lead vocalist/instrumentalist) Heather Mansfield solving their relatively ordinary problem (Jonathan walks too fast for his asthmatic girlfriend) with a quirky but playful solution (buying her a pair of red rollerskates and pulling her around with a rope). On “The Crime Machine”, Heather longs to live as a 1920’s Queen-pin, “Bedroom Disco” (fast becoming a live favourite) lives up to it’s title as a stay-at-home party song, and the title track combines surreal lyrics about a stationary fetish with (good) Bond-movie string arrangements and guitar tremolo.

A short and concise 35 minutes, Paper Dolls reaffirms the glory of a simple melody.