With a name like The Carnival Brothers, one might expect some kind of warped, vaudevillian melodrama — or even something slightly twisted to match a title like ‘Deadliest Cuts’.
But the steampunk, Victorian era amusement sideshow get-up is merely an adopted aesthetic for the Dublin-based quintet. What we see and what we get are two very different things.
What we get is a trio of simple, saccharine, sickly-sweet songs.
Tuneful and subdued, The Carnival Brothers make use of a warm production style that manages to make each instrument in the mix equally clear and audible yet allow for frontman Ger “The Wolfman” Eaton’s soft, cherubic voice come to the fore.
It’s worth noting that the group make refreshing use of instrumentation – multi-instrumentalist and right-hand man “Vegas” layers acoustic guitar and lightly chorused electric guitars on top of one another, as well as adding mandolins, other strings, and makes liberal use of keys whether it be melotron that sounds as if it was lifted right from a Beatles songs or bright, chirpy Hammond organs (both showcased on first track Beautiful Mistake).
The drum and bass rhythm section consisting of Binzer and The Fox back the songs up with tight, steady grooves; most notably on The City At Night.
While the songs are so life-affirming and positive that the light-heartedness of “Deadliest Cuts” in itself is enjoyable, unorthodox instrumentation alone cannot make an EP memorable. The songs and lyrics themselves do not provide enough replay value.
The Carnival Brothers do make some pretty sounds and manage to include many colours to their palette but at just three tracks, the last of which (The City At Night) ends with a fade-out, listeners may be left wanting a little bit more. It all feels a little bit incomplete. Furthermore, the songs themselves — from the chord progressions to the ABAB lyrics — all seem a little too familiar and worst of all, predictable.
Though enjoyable in its own way, “Deadliest Cuts” simply doesn’t do enough to leave a lasting impression.