From the start, the Brothers' adopted an adventurous attitude about music that ran contrary to the restrictive rules and norms of the hardcore punk underground. "The first shows that I really felt connected to were (mid-90s) punk and hardcore shows in Seattle," says singer and guitarist Jordan Blilie. That's the environment we all grew up in, as far as developing our early music tastes. We were around 14, 15 years old. We started the band when we were 16, and if you listen to any of our early stuff, that's pretty apparent."
Though the Brothers' new album, Crimes, is their most accessible, they haven't sold their experimental-punk souls. The band's first three albums were full-metal freak-outs bursting with ideas. Too many ideas, according to Blilie.
"I think a lot of the songs on the last record (2003's Burn Piano Island, Burn) were a little overkill and were a little bit of a mess," he says.
Despite its faults, Burn Piano Island was an enormous critical success, and might have enjoyed the kind of sales of similar-minded acts such as Poison the Well if the Brothers' label, Artist Direct, hadn't gone bankrupt. Fortunately, V2 Records (home to Icarus Line) picked up the contract, making Crimes possible.
The quintet learned its lessons from the Burn Piano Island sessions, and Crimes is a more focused and assured album. "This time around we had a much clearer idea of what we wanted to do. We had a much better sense of what worked and what didn't," says Blilie. "The result was that we wrote twice as many songs in half the time."
The highlight of Crimes is a three-song stretch midway into the album, beginning with the slinky, dance-punk title track, followed by the screeching "My First Kiss at the Public Execution," and culminating with "Live At the Apocalypse Cabaret," during which the band takes a nimble stab at David Bowie-esque glam. Bubbling with nervous energy and a late-night allure, other tracks, such as "Love Rhymes with Hideous Car Wreck" and "Teen Heat," have a sleek, angular veneer similar to that of Fugazi or Girls Against Boys. The Brothers, liberated from their earlier breakneck, kitchen-sink approach to music, have created a set of songs that allow space for the band's creepy malevolence to linger.
"(Burn Piano Island) is exhausting to listen to, it's almost an hour long and it doesn't let up for an hour. That isn't how I want to experience music when I listen to a record," says Blilie.
"There was a time I would have loved a record like that, and I think that the production style was very fitted for the songs that we wrote (then)," he adds. "But our tastes have changed, and what we look for in a recording has changed considerably as well."
Crimes may not offer the inverted, triple-loop, stomach-in-your-shoes kind of sonic roller-coaster thrill of the Brothers' earlier albums, but the smoother ride provides its own aesthetic appeal.
The Blood Brothers play the Casbah at Tremont Music Hall Sunday; doors open at 7pm. Tickets for the all-ages show are $10, with Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower and Big Business also on the bill.