The Brutalist Bricks

  • Record Label: Matador
  • Release Date: Mar 9, 2010

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. The Brutalist Bricks sounds nothing like that at all. Ted Leo is still very much in his prime, and Bricks is as relevant (and as great) a record as you'll hear in 2010.
  2. The Brutalist Bricks is just as much a stirring, personal response to the times as the early Pharmacists albums. There’s a back-to-basics, making-sense-of-the-world vibe about the record, and Leo’s blend of the personal and political is often touching.
  3. Leo was impressive even when he was an unmitigated idealist but now, older and less sure of things, he is even better.
  4. He's smart enough to know what's to be done, sincere enough to do it free of distraction, and nice enough not to impose his will on you. Ted Leo has literally seen his success as an artist become a life or death experience, and he's here to tell you how to treat it like a grown-up.
  5. Alternative Press
    The Brutalist Bricks is an experimental and enjoyable pop-punk record. [Apr 2010, p.128]
  6. With The Brutalist Bricks, they’ve silenced doubters with another skillful dose of catchy rock and it’s quite the remedy for any sour disbelievers.
  7. Both in words and music, this album works by letting anger and warmth share a platform. In this respect, listeners already au fait with this splendid band should find plenty of cheer.
  8. After the misfire of Living With The Living this is a content, relaxed record with nothing to prove. Ted Leo is a man un-fussily playing to his strengths.
  9. Uncut
    The Brutalist Bricks isn't quite the match of 2004's career highlight Shake The Streets. But "Gimmee The Wire" mixes punky, Mission Of Burma dynamics with a garrulous, troubadour storytelling, while "Bottles In Cork" unfolds as a bar-hopping travelogue as colorful as anything Craig Finn has put his pen to. [Jun 2010, p.92]
  10. Leo's still exceptionally adept at saying a lot in a small space but there are more than a few lines that feel a little too forceful no matter how many times you run into them, sitting slightly askew next to the richer images and more pointed jabs here.
  11. Throughout, Leo and his stalwart Pharmacists (who include James Canty of the Make-Up on guitar and keyboards) reflect the singer's unified worldview with hooky, sharp-angled guitar jams that somehow seem catchier the thrashier they get. Chalk up another win for one of the good guys.
  12. The Brutalist Bricks, for its moments of torrential fury, sags when Leo occasionally writes outside of an exhausted but all-encompassing formula.
  13. In Leo’s case, it’s somehow comforting that every few years he’ll be along to inspire and cajole his fans with his dedication and passion. The Brutalist Bricks will let no one down in that regard.
  14. Despite its obvious ingredients and well-worn criterion, Brutalist Bricks comes off peculiarly fresh. There are simply not a lot of people making the same sort of music Leo is these days; his audacious conviction is so easily appreciable (and hard to recreate) that he's almost immune to diminishing returns.
  15. 70
    Leo has now produced more Pharmacists records while we've been at war than not, and in a world that still needs Fugazi's oppositional fire, The Brutalist Bricks' Dischordant burn is welcome.
  16. Although it may not be a punk album through and through, songs like "The Stick" and "Where Was My Brain?" embody the genre's spirit with pounding drums, frenzied guitars and rushed deliveries (the former cut clocks in at less than two minutes), while "Mourning in America" mixes the genre's chaotic arrangements and political bite with Leo's usual power-pop flare.
  17. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is just plain forgettable—a flat stale gray of staid sentiments and middle-of-the-road rock.
  18. Under The Radar
    One of these days, they're going to produce a masterpiece, but The Brutalist Bricks has too many soft spots to be it. [Winter 2010, p.64]
  19. His social commentaries occasionally overwhelm the music, as on Bottled In Cork, a doozy that might elicit an “I get it, I get it, the world is fucked” response. And though he also stumbles on the underdeveloped, raspy, pop diversion One Polaroid A Day, Leo’s still built a sturdy addition to the band’s discography.
  20. Q Magazine
    It's a good move, supercharged power pop melodies and sparky guitars combining to good effect on tracks such as "Gimme The Wire." [Jun 2010, p.127]
  21. If he'd played up his vocals over his vitriol, Brutalist Bricks could have been a much better album. Loud and messy may be the hallmarks of hardcore, but showcasing his talents would have made a bigger impact, both musically and politically.
  22. A perfunctory listen yields little that stands out, offering none of the instant classics that the earlier albums earwormed into steady rotation.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. TomP.
    Mar 24, 2010
    It's solid, with very few weak spots. Much more seamless than the jack-of-all-trades Living with the Living from 2007. Many, many solid It's solid, with very few weak spots. Much more seamless than the jack-of-all-trades Living with the Living from 2007. Many, many solid listens here. Full Review »