Bryan Scary is the 21st century’s Vincenzo Peruggia. A thief so brazen, conspicuous and crude in his efforts that it seems like he’s trying to get caught. And he has been, with the ideas of every original artist of the past forty years tucked palpably under his coat. In fact one of the only differences between Bryan Scary’s sophomore album Flight of the Knife and the rudimentary 1911 theft of the “Mona Lisa” is that Mr. Scary plays two roles, both the conman and the robber. However, unlike his 20th century counterparts, Mr. Scary plays both roles to perfection.
He starts off Flight of the Knife with the aptly named, “Flight of the Knife Pt. 1,” and with it, dips into his inside coat pocket for the first of a dizzying array of influences, the most prominent of which being ELO and Sir Elton John, two artists from whom he borrows a lot from (quite unofficially) throughout the rest of the album. And from the opening song, the thinly veiled plagiarism only gets worse, and more accurate, as he takes from artists such as Queen, The Beach Boys, and Of Montreal…all in one song. On “The Purple Rocket,” he commits surf rock blasphemy, by sampling the riff from “Wipeout.” And then on “The Zero Light,” he makes a feeble attempt at the experimental, with a cut time pseudo-afro pop drumbeat that eventually becomes background noise to an unnecessary wall of synthesizers. Mr. Scary even has the nerve to try and channel some of his inner Derrick and the Dominoes during the chorus of “The Curious Disappearance of the Sky-Ship Thunder-Man.” And despite the fact that Mr. Scary flawlessly executes each song on the album, the drought of original thought and music throughout makes for an unbearably trite and redundant compilation.
Yet, the overtly elaborate arrangements and melodies that wrap themselves around Flight of the Knife are hardly all that’s familiar about it. Songs such as “Venus Ambassador,” and “The Fire-Tree Bird,” two piano driven romps about an ambassador to Venus from the U.N, and an apparently undiscovered Avifauna of the Chordata Phylum, feature shallow and one dimensional lyrics filled with picturesque scenes and stark imagery, reminiscent of Bernie Taupin, if he were a trekkie. The concept of having a rock ballad about space and the universe isn’t the most original of ideas either. He should’ve just gone the whole nine yards and made his moniker Diggy Chardust.
This isn’t to say that Bryan Scary isn’t talented however, quite the contrary. He is clearly a gifted arranger and technically advanced musician, capable of more then adequate performances on a wide array of instruments (evident by his first album, in which he played all instruments but drums). But what he has in technical talent, he counteracts in lack of imagination. So much for the concept that musicians always have a superior right brain. Well, Mr. Scary wouldn’t have thought of that anyway.