Brontez Purnell has been making music since the ‘90s. The Southern-raised, Oakland-based musician and writer has centred his queerness and Blackness in the punk/electro-clash band, Gravy Train!!!! and The Younger Lovers, as well as in his award-winning books, 100 Boyfriends and Since I Laid My Burden Down.
Raised in Alabama, Purnell moved to the Bay Area in the early 2000’s to become an aspiring dancer, writer, and musician. The sound of The Younger Lovers takes a foot hold from his equal love of melody based rock forms – indie, blues, garage, surf, riot-grrrl, soul and punk- distilling them into a singularity of sound that is as unique as it is audacious. When Purnell joined the ranks of Gravy Train!!!!, he toured alongside the likes of Le Tigre, ESG and Bratmobile.
Hot on the heels of his first solo electronic record, No Jack Swing (Dark Entries / Papi Juice), Purnell returns in true DIY-punk band form, on his new album, Confirmed Bachelor. The 12 songs on the new record are of the no-time-wasted variety. Fuzzed-out pop songs, hotly delivered from the heart – often sassy, sometimes sappy and always snappy!
“Bachelors Theme” opens the album, and sets the scene perfectly with the heady rush and swoon of it all. Jagged riffs, bubblegum bounce and Brontez’s vocal effortlessly racing to dizzying effect. “That’s when I heard the doctor singing to me, Son; you got all those boys in love, I wish I knew what you were saying to them. Their storming castles are coming for you!” It’s a tour de force of bop and bravado. This is what the album does so well, it sweeps you off your feet, making its lyrical disclosures all the more affecting.
“Rude Life” begins in lilting, measured contemplation. “You’re the rudest boy I know, and I’ve a real rude life” confesses Brontez as the violin laces through his vocal. This is all shook up at the halfway mark though when the adrenaline kicks in and the drums pummel. “Sky Opens Up” similarly dials up the tumbling, careening clamour and energy buzz. “Hellish Banger” is more of slow dance meets grunge reverie. The album also boasts a spiralling auto-tuned cover of The Amps “Bragging Party”. “No Cigarettes / Stay Monkey” is a pulse-grabbing rally of unadorned declarations split into two fleeting sketches.
“Hey Boy” and “Boy With Butterfly Wings” are more reflective in intent, both yearning and unapologetically poetic. In fact the little details observed in the lyrics across the whole album are quietly elegiac; winter nights, electric bills, ticking clocks and many allusions to hauntings only lending pathos to the love-drunk / lovelorn axis of the record.
Confirmed Bachelor is a hot wonder, upbeat, witty and ever-lively only with a forlorn core, a resolute focus and defiant honesty. It’s a rare triumph, a record you can dance your Friday night away to, whilst the songs’ subtly work on your emotions from the inside out.
Brontez’s band includes the multifaceted talents of Vice Cooler (who also produced and mixed the album), Sean Teves (of Younger Lovers) on drums, Kevin Preston (Prima Donna, Green Day) on guitar, Aaron Minton (Prima Donna) on piano and saxophone, and Laena Myers-Ionita on violin. The album was recorded in Los Angeles at The VCR earlier this year.