Latecomers to the postpunk boy-band derby, THE BRAVERY have been called calculated and derivative--as if that weren't the basic job description. Front man Sam Endicott gets singled out in particular, especially for copping moves from Julian Casablancas, but I'm not sure when the Strokes became poster boys for whole-cloth invention--or how JC's heavily affected drawl, for all its charms, could ever have been considered original. The Bravery (Island), their wittily titled debut, does sound manufactured, but if supercharged, irresistible, danceable plasticity is a drawback for a band in hot pursuit of Duran Duran, I'll eat my hat. Endicott roughs up all manner of verklempt Robert Smith vocalizations and runs them through a "Last Night" filter, and the band takes the sound of the Cure's Japanese Whispers to a baroque level Rob never quite managed. The synth-pop middles of most Bravery songs are ridiculously filthy and fat, with endless subhooks lurking in the chatter, roil, and bounce of multitrack sequencing, and their tidily aggressive guitars are restricted to supporting the front-and-center Klaxon keyboards. It's all dressed up in the latest duds, and you'll also hear shameless lifts from the Hives and Killers in the mix--but it's so entertaining only a poseur would make an issue of it.
Having moved away somewhat from their relentlessly post-Marxist lyrical strain with 2004's Armed Love (Burning Heart import), the Swedish mannerists in (INTERNATIONAL) NOISE CONSPIRACY have, of course, been branded sellouts. But there's still plenty of message in their Motown-flavored garage rock, and their moddish R & B dance grooves still pack a heckuva wallop. These guys are best appreciated live; the last time I caught them they were as tight a band as I'd ever seen, and singer Dennis Lyxzen's James Brown-esque footwork was so hot--down to the microphone-stand bounce--it practically demanded some dull ideology to cool it off.
The Bravery headlines, (International) Noise Conspiracy plays second, and People in Planes open. Tue 10/4, 7 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $14.50. All ages.