Waiting four years to release a sophomore album is always a dicey proposition, and for Australian provocateur Kirin J. Callinan, the risk hasn't yielded much reward. His 2013 solo debut, Embracism, scrutinized and satirized masculine gender norms via industrial beats and Suede-style glam rock, introducing Callinan's distinct voice and theatrical style to international audiences.
Those traits remain nearly a half-decade later, but they've mutated beyond recognition. Callinan's sentimentality has become saccharine, and his flair for the melodramatic now verges on outright camp. The singer attempts to reconcile these traits on his long-overdue followup, but the album's lack of focus results in some baffling decisions.
Bravado could be described as a post-EDM record, if only because Callinan has half-heartedly adopted the style in its declining years. After two minutes of grunts and growls, opener "My Moment" abruptly becomes an Avicii clone, while the hook on "This Whole Town" sounds like a Swedish House Mafia track played through a wall. EDM relies on build and climactic release, but Callinan's song structures stymie any momentum before he even gets rolling.
The rest of the album is a mishmash of tones. Callinan exaggerates empty hedonism, carpe diem optimism and cowboy individualism in a way that suggests parody, at least until he veers into treacly sincerity on "Family Home" and "Telling Me This." The title track and "Friend of Lindy Morrison" do suggest a more cohesive blend of styles, but they're practically buried at the end of the album.
Callinan has a knack for pushing buttons, but it sounds like he's just mashing the keyboard on Bravado. (Terrible)