Brevity and restraint are two traits that Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Brendan Rivera should contemplate the next time he makes an album. His latest disc, Body of Land, is a 15-song collection of intimate acoustic ditties and soaring, full-scale anthems with muddled results and armfuls of mediocrity. The disc begins with celestial noise before diving headfirst into the soaring arena-ready “Miles.” Proving that “Miles,” was no fluke, he chases down another stadium-sized chorus on “Wednesday,” before attempting something commercial with the dance splash of “Digital Curse.” The end result is something far too messy and ambitious for someone of Rivera’s status.
As if cognizant of this, he goes for something a little more refined in the jangle-pop of “WIth a Little Extra Flavor,” and it’s a direction he should probably chase down in future efforts. We’re All in This,” is chill and groove-based, while “Pixie Love,” is jaunty and playful. But that’’s where the superlatives end. From here on out, everything about Body of Land deflates. The album’s remaining seven songs are acoustic offerings that don’t do anything to bolster his credibility as something worth coming back to and do little do distance himself from his contemporaries. Aside from “Acoustic Abbey,” “Faux Plastique” and album closer “The End of An Introduction,” the back half is entirely too boring.
Rivera’s biggest problem is that he likes to overextend his throaty vocals, often times suffocating the songs themselves from any sense of accomplishment or accessibility. Moreover, his histrionic vocals came across as overwrought, imitative and feigned. Even on the more subdued acoustic offerings, there’s very little about the execution that sounds sincere or genuine.
If Rivera is hoping to make a dent in the overcrowded Brooklyn music scene, he most certainly needs to rectify Body of Land’s plethora of mistakes. Perhaps then, he can be taken seriously.