by Jonathan Bannister (@j_utah)
Swagger. Bristling confidence with a side of barely contained rage and frustration. These are the marks you like to hear from some young upstart rock band looking to make a name for themselves. But what about a group of long standing pros getting together to form a new group? What could easily have been a feel good “remember when” is anything but with Piroshka’s debut album Brickbat.
For starters, Miki Berenyi and company are pissed off. Opener “This Must Be Bedlam” struts its way out the door full of piss and vinegar. The drums pound out the gait as Berenyi lists a litany of modern annoyances, with Brexit and the general shittiness of what’s going on out there in the crosshairs. The mental image of scanning your social feeds full of nonsense as she sings “I know where I stand so just pass me the wine.” It’s a wonderful opener to an album that is full of twists and turns. Whatever expectations are held based on each members previous work are crushed under the boots of “Bedlam.” It’s a song that lets the listener know this isn’t some cash grab adventure. These are musicians with an objective. Michael Conroy and Justin Welch flex their rhythm section skills on “Never Enough.” The opening bass chords sing out as they settle into a groove that would make you think they’ve been playing together for ages. “Never Enough” along with the wonderful “Everlastingly Yours” have that mid 90s UK vibe that just warms the heart. When the horns come in on “Everlastingly Yours” it brings a smile.
But Brickbat is not some nostalgia fueled trip down pop memory lane. Each member takes what they do well and uses it to mold something that’s fresh and relevant. One trend that does continue from the past is Berenyi’s ability to use beautiful melodies to tell ugly truths. Take the aforementioned “Never Enough”. Coupled with that moving groove come lyrics about greed and the disease that is the “I got mine” attitude that shows the ravages of the capitalist mindset. Or on “What’s Next,” buried next to the synths and guitar pings Berenyi talks about the toll our modern news cycle and culture is taking on our souls and our relationships to one another. “Heartbeats” might be the prettiest song on the album but its prettiness masks a heartbreak with the changing dynamic between a parent and child.
Throughout Brickbat you can tell that these are musicians that enjoy playing together and who enjoy breaking free from the constraints of their previous endeavors. It’s an unashamedly adult album, full of weighty subjects and musicians stretching their musical muscles. If this is just Piroshka warming up, one can imagine what’s to come with even more time playing together. Here’s hoping we all get to find out across many more albums to come.