By: Eric Greenwood
Film School is a self-proclaimed "project" with revolving members. Must be serious. It even has famous special guests. Well, not really. It's just another moody, sprawling, lo-fi rock album that guys from Fuck and Pavement play on. Krayg Burton is the only constant member of Film School since he wears the most hats, having written all the songs and all. One hat he shouldn't wear, though, is "singer." Sometimes when singers warble through their songs it's endearing like when J Mascis and Will Oldham do it. Both of those singers possess varying levels of charisma to back up their wavering inflections. Burton has no such charisma or, apparently, a tuner.
Brilliant Career is an ironic title, although, I am not sure the "revolving" members of the "project" are aware of why that is the case (or maybe they are…hence "revolving"). The album actually starts off promisingly with the tragic instrumental "American Turnip." The chords are somber and dramatic, swelling and deflating amidst distant vocal samples and eerie keyboard undercurrents. Everything rises to a climax of noisy guitar interplay, and it's a gorgeous opener. Things falls apart by the next song, however, as the onslaught of generic indie rock begins. "Not About A Girl" trudges through its boring riff while quietly strained vocals make the hairs in your inner ear prickle awkwardly.
On "Ume's Lament" Burton actually sounds like he's trying to ape J Mascis with his deliberately quivering voice. My cat started crying while "Introduced" was playing…nope, sorry, that was Burton singing in the chorus. I'm starting to understand the "revolving members" thing now. "Intentions" isn't half-bad, but it's such a clear Jesus And Mary Chain rip off with its fuzzy, repetitive guitar and lazy "woo-hoo" vocals that it negates its own progress with blatant mimicry. The songs with sparing or distant vocals (or none at all) are not half bad. "Far Away" is a perfect example wherein Burton's voice is relegated to the background, allowing the music to build the tension. The keyboard solo is the shining moment of the entire album as it competes with layers of distant, wailing guitars.
Burton needs to hire some bandmates that aren't afraid to tell him when to throw a song away. I guess instead of telling him the truth they just quit when they think the material blows. How else can you explain a band that promotes itself as one with "revolving members?" Brilliant Career is rampant with flaws and, thus, a severely inconsistent debut, where the bad easily outweighs the good two to one. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. It's called an instrumental.