Since their mainstream breakthrough, the Brave Girls have stayed firmly in the range of house music which propelled them to stardom. This is not a bad decision; their voices are well-suited to electronic music and their production is always top-notch. However, every musician knows the risk of becoming stuck in a rut and seeing diminishing returns. Thus, the Brave Girls have embraced the cultural return of the 90s, albeit in a very European way.
Thank You is still rooted in club culture, but they’ve strayed away from the deep and tropical house that has been their bread and butter. Instead, they have progressed through to the turn of the millennium. The styles in specific start with eurodance before sliding through to italo disco and nu-disco. It is a lot of energy, occasionally bordering on mania, but Thank You also retains the slick control typical of the era to keep the production on a tight leash, giving the audience crazy and passionate dance music without veering into cacophonous chaos.
Unfortunately, the fidelity to the sounds of the era have a significant drawback– it anonymizes Brave Girls. This is less of an issue on the title track, as “Thank You” is closest to nu-disco and lacks a lot of the vocal processing on the rest of the tracks. However, the thin mix and heavy processing on the deep cuts does no favors. Eurodance as a genre was always more focused on the producers than the singers, who are more or less interchangeable compared to the beats and rhythm. Applying the effects of the day to Brave Girls strips Thank You of one of its greatest assets. Brave Girls don’t have the strongest voices, but they have a distinct color that is ridiculously well-suited to sad techno music. Nobody cries in the club like Brave Girls, but the production has stripped their anguish right out.
This really hurts the EP as a whole, as most of it tells the small yet satisfying story of a relationship ending. “You and I” shows them literally walking towards the breakup, as they know that things have become distant and awkward. They reminisce on the good times, but are aware that things cannot be fixed, and the only thing left to do is pull the trigger. The instrumentation is peak 90s eurodance. It’s twinkling and light, with a solid groove, but the wind effects and minor key give it an undercurrent of tragedy. It is the Brave Girls trying to hold their heads up and face their break-up with some dignity, while they are screaming inside.
“Love Is Gone” moves on to the moments directly after the relationship has ended. It is the sharp moment when all you can feel is the loss. The good times you had, the good times you could have had, all severed in one cruel moment as their ex walks away, seemingly unaffected. Here, the grief is laid bare, out in the open for all to see. There is a shift to italo disco, with the bulk of the melody lying on a truly excellent saxophone line. There are touches of strings which play nicely against the drum machine. It all adds up to a track where the overwhelming emotions seem cut off from the music, yet the music meshes perfectly. Brave Girls feel like the world has stopped spinning, but they are still in the thick of it, even if they do not process that.
The final song in the heartbreak trilogy is “Can I Love You”, a doubting, miserable track that shows the lingering effects of a breakup. Even as Brave Girls attempt to move on, they find themselves unable to do so, wondering if they are even capable of feeling love anymore. Turning back towards eurodance, “Can I Love You” is a song of loneliness, with creepy, unsettling tones and synth lines that mimic screams of anguish, all in a minor key. This is the feeling of having your heart so broken, you cannot imagine a time when it is fixed. But all three of these b-sides are undercut by the mixing and production. Brave Girls voices are buried when they should be the focal point. Thank You is brutal, but it should and easily could be devastating.
Then there’s “Thank You”, the title track. This is a pure ball of fun. Written for their fans, there is a sincerity in Brave Girls that shines through the production. Their big break was a fluke, but they managed to take advantage of it and finally gain success after years of having little to show for it, and they are so grateful that this was possible. Bright, bouncy, with those distinctive disco strings and genuine joy bleeding through every line, “Thank You” is just a happy song that will lift its audience’s spirits. There’s also a remix, but it is practically identical, only sounding slightly rave-ier with St Anger’s snare drums, so it really does not need to be there.
Thank You is a quintessential Brave Girls EP. A little bit of fun dance music with a lot of electronica heartbreak; this is what they are best at. Thank you for making more of it.
(Images via Brave Entertainment, YouTube)