Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Human Hearts

  • Another [Shrimper, 2012] A-
  • Day of the Tiles [self-released EP, 2020] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Another [Shrimper, 2012]
A John Darnielle sideman and philosophy Ph.D. who wrote a 33 1/3 on Elvis C.'s Armed Forces, Franklin Bruno knows pop from the beginning--19th-century sheet music. He delivers these songs with a brass-tacks brio that recalls the songsmith-sung demos on a Cole Porter comp and also plays all keyboards and most guitars. Love the Costello-without-shame opener and the title tune that's all quarter-of-three Sinatra. But my avorites on this consistently and straightforwardly songful album are the rocking "Cheap Sunglasses," about the girlfriend he saw through, and the rhumbaing "Not Just When We Kiss," about the one he stuck with. It's not Brad Paisley's "Then." But it belongs on the same mixtape. A-

Day of the Tiles [self-released EP, 2020]
It's somehow been eight years since philosopher-musicologist, pianist-guitarist, and sometime Mountain Goat Franklin Bruno released his band debut Another, and too many as well since I saw them debut new songs about money--songs I doubt are on a six-song EP that begins "Dialectics/Doesn't break bricks" because I couldn't possibly have forgotten "Is it wrong to write rhymes when my rhymes right no wrongs?" or "The system isn't broken/It works the way it's made/They know that you can't change it/As long as they can keep you/Feeling sad and afraid." Delivered in an articulate baritone that hits the notes without disrespecting its conversational lifestyle, both songs match anything new I've heard all year that isn't by Run the Jewels or Lil Baby, with the other four merely strong, catchy, and smart. As a public service I've Googled "Granges-sur-Salvan" (site of a 1994 mass murder/suicide) and "Day of the Tiles" soi-mÍme (the June 7, 1788, riot some consider the true beginning of the French Revolution). So don't say I didn't warn you. A