The Latvian rock group Prāta vētra (BrainStorm) is back with a new album, Četri krasti (Four Shores), this after a hiatus lasting more than two years.
That’s not surprising, given that bassist Gundars Mauševics (known as Mūmiņš) died in an auto accident last year. Much of the material on this compact disc was being written while Mūmiņš was still alive. The album is dedicated to him.
The album contains only 10 songs (under 40 minutes playing time), so you don’t have too much time to get acquainted with the album cover artwork or Anton Corbijn’s photographs. However, the album has something for everybody’s musical tastes.
The album takes right off with the title track “Četri krasti“ in a bass and rythmic sound barrage that sounds quite similar to musical material by the Swedish rock group Kent. This is the album’s showcase song.
The next song, “Pilots Tims,“ seems quite ordinary in comparision. A light melodic song with a French chorus text will certainly make a few listeners smile and sing along.
The third song, “Kur milzu kalni liekas mazi,“ uses quotes from the work of Latvian poet Imants Ziedonis, who currently is seriously ill. Perhaps this is a way for lead singer Renārs Kaupers to pay homage to Ziedonis. (The song “Rudens“ also quotes from Ziedonis). It’s a real moody song that takes a bit of time to take off, but once it’s going, it just sounds like a mixture of material the band has done before.
Next is the Midnight Oil-sounding “Tin Drums.“ I can already picture it as the MTV video song. It’s a nice, steady rocking tune with good, catchy lyrics and is one of two English-language songs on the album. (The plan is to release an English version of the album in the fall, according to record company MICREC.)
On the next track, Kaupers teams up with The Hobos frontman Rolands Ūdris for the lyrics on “Purpur“ (Purple). This song uses quite a bit of sound loop effects with which I’m not so impressed. The cheesy Chris Isaac guitar in the beginning just kills the song before it ever gets going. This song is probably the weak link on the album.
On the other hand, “Rudens“ (Autumn) is a nice, little, slow song that’s a real sleeper, but in concert it will definitely work well with the crowd singing along. At first, I was little skeptical about the tremolo organ on the track (probably producer Alex Silva’s idea), but it’s OK not being overdone.
Tick-tack goes the next song, “Tā nogurt var tikai no svētkiem,“ with a lot of ironic lyrics and a catchy chorus.
A movie music track is almost a sure thing on a Prāta vētra record and this time it sounds like the Fiddler on the Roof is singing and dancing with “Māsa nakts“ (Sister Night).
On the R.E.M. and BrainStorm tour earlier this year, I had a chance to hear the second-to-last track, “Sunrise (Deep in Hell),“ a fresh bluesy song that is not quite like anything they’ve done before. The Wurlitzer keyboard sound fits in just right with the choppy guitar.
Lapsa Kūmiņš (Reynard The Fox) shows up on the last song on the album, “Lapsa,” while the rest of the band sing the chorus and tries to catch the tricky fox by the tail. The song is a sure winner with all kids and a good, strong song to round up the album. The chorus reminds me of the melody of an old Coca-Cola commercial, but it sounds good anyway.
As mentioned, there’s something for every listener on this record. But it does leave open to question Prāta vētra’s future music direction. As a whole, the album gets my recommendation, but still doesn’t measure up to masterworks like Veronika (1996) or Viss ir tieši tā kā tu vēlies (1997). My top picks from the album are “Četri krasti,” “Tin Drums,” “Rudens,” “Lapsa” and “Sunrise.” Prāta vētra sets out on a concert tour of Latvia this summer and we’ll probably be sure to hear some of these songs played live during the tour.
Brainstorm Records, 2005
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