A little more than a year ago, Scott Cary quietly announced the presence of Brat Sounds—and, simultaneously, the burial of his other project, Dinny Bulca—with an eponymous eight-song debut. Beyond publicly declaring the project’s existence and utilizing the release to help field live show accompaniment for material Cary wrote, played, recorded, mixed, and mastered on his own, Brat Sounds was a promising (if not memorable) batch of songs that careened emphatically between post-punk, indie, and punk rock on a song-by-song basis. With Brat Sounds’ latest, the 11-track Born Loser, Cary has come no closer to landing on a specific style, he’s just carried his raw and sporadic sounds to higher sonic ground.
Once again written, performed, and recorded (almost) completely on his lonesome, Cary’s wavering and distorted vocals call the record to action with the bouncy, short-form title track’s first part, which quickly gives way to a down-tempo second part. After the 27 seconds worth of shouts and snare thuds of “Dead Dog” subside, Born Loser regains its footing with the addictive and upbeat “I Stutter” and its single greatest hooks either Brat Sounds or Dinny Bulca have managed to this point. Cary’s striking improvement as a songwriter is also showcased with the excellent melody of peppy “Nemo” and the alphabetically sequenced record’s crescendo, “No Hope,” which starts with a bustling wave of guitar and tongue twisting lyrics before it’s dismantled to reveal an interlude in which Cary’s whispered “The thing that scares me most of all is that I could live like this forever” builds to full-on screams and a squealing guitar solo by song’s end.
Sitting somewhere between a well-orchestrated clearing house for basement-born songs and formidable full band, Brat Sounds leapfrogs sub-genres and eludes expectation at Born Loser‘s every turn. As scatterbrained and stylistically inconsistent as the project’s latest and altogether best record is from song to song, what’s never lost is the listener’s attention. Before Brat Sounds releases it on cassette (via Breadking) at Bremen Cafe on Saturday, listen to Born Loser in its entirety now, only at Milwaukee Record.