Brendan Maclean has had a varied career in film and music, from starring alongside Marcia Hines in the cabaret show Velvet in the 2015 Adelaide Fringe, to well known Triple J radio presenter for many years and to having his sexually explicit 2015 video to “House of Air” being banned by Youtube. So after several EP’s, Maclean’s debut album And the Boyfriends has already rocketed up the iTunes charts, debuting at #2.
“Hibernia” was released as a single in August 2018 and is a familiar start to the album. The poppy dance track is easy to listen to and has an almost club feel to it. It has an instantly familiar feel to it. The next song on the album “Where’s the Miracle” keeps the strong beat driven sound. The line, “Mommy’s at the top of the stairs again” hints at a darker edge to the track despite a bouncy feel to the song. This sets the tone of what is to come for the rest of the album.
The pace steps down a notch for “Not too Stoned”, an introspective track that seems to allude to a sinister side to a relationship. Despite the upbeat nature of the song there is definite deeper imagery at work.
The poetry continues with “Goes Without Saying”, as I watched you die. Tunefully the song builds in layers with a female accompaniment and wouldn’t be out of place in a stage show. “Tenderness” is another slow and deliberate song that belies the title. Fragile and quiet it tugs at the heartstrings. The orchestral feel gives it an otherworldly feel. The lyrics are more spoken than sung which elevate it to a poem. Maclean then builds confidence and strength with “Quiet Company”. An ode to the television with a cheerful and bubbly feel until it ends in a tortured whisper.
“Ghost” is the most whimsical track on the album. It muses on coming back as a ghost – perhaps belying a more profound message. The album is full of contradictions; are the light pop songs full of intensity and the shadier songs really hopeful and happy. Only many listens will give up the secrets.
Sarah Belkner joins Maclean as duet on “Layer on the Love” which again seems at first listen to be light yet with more listens conveys a depth of emotion that sends shivers – “hold me until I can’t feel you”.
The closing track “Wolf Run” is another fervent track and a great way to round up the album. And the Boyfriends is an album that deserves a few listens to appreciate the subtlety and gravity of the message and is a well deserved success for this talented musician.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
And The Boyfriends is out now.