Already on to their second album, Bruja are turning out new material at a fair rate of knots. Midnight Tales continues in a similar vein to their first offering Odium with its thick fuzz guitars and atmospheric vocals. Opener ‘Old Mother’ has a confident Queens Of The Stone Age stomp about it and ‘Feline’ is reminiscent of a fuzzed out Elastica: all quirky hooks and angular melodies. ‘Through The Eyes of Isabella’ starts as a sludgy mire which sonically somehow manages to lack the real thump the big opening riff deserves. The pace soon picks up though and the rest of the song is delivered with the Bruja trademark Female/Male vocal attack. This works really well and is one of Bruja’s strong points. Something sadly short in the sausage-fest that is Rock Music.
‘Bon’ is a quirky little tune about walking the dog and ‘The Day The Clown Cried’ is a real hark back to 90’s riffology and dynamics. There’s lots of reference to the 90’s grunge sound, bits of Mudhoney and occasional The Melvins are apparent throughout. ‘Witches Sabbath’ though offers up something pretty different to what’s gone before it. With a nod of the head to The Pixies during their more surf-rock moments, it showcases some laid back but solid drumming. ‘Outgunned’ wouldn’t be out of place on an L7 album with its’ filthy fuzz riff and album closer ‘Tragic Love’ twists and turns its way to a conclusion.
Bruja should consider a less is more approach going forward. I can’t help but feel cutting a couple of the weaker songs and giving the album more chance to showcase the strong moments would have been of benefit here. Midnight Tales is a pretty lengthy album. While Bruja’s song writing output is admirable, a more ruthless approach to choosing what to release would benefit. The production is solid enough but occasionally lacks the punch this band deserves. With the super fuzzy guitars and hard drumming this album should assault your speakers into submission which it fails to do as much as I’d like. I would love to hear some of these songs recorded in a high-end studio and professionally mastered. These things aside, the core ingredients are there for Bruja to make an impact as a force to be reckoned with. Midnight Tales is an enjoyable listen and with the right backing and opportunities to hone their live craft they should continue on their upward trajectory.
Words by Beaumont Shandy-Justice
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Midnight Tales was recorded at Studio 24, Barnsley and is now available to buy from Debut Records.