In contrast with the grand scale of the city that birthed them, Brooklyn natives This Frontier Needs Heroes kept things simple on their self-titled debut. The brother-sister duo of singer/guitarist Brad Lauretti and percussionist Jessica Lauretti create minimalist indie-folk that came from the city, but sounds like the country. With sparse acoustic guitar driving instrumental arrangements, Brad's pensive lyrics are the focal point of the songs. Like the music itself, Brad's words are basic and straightforward, with most verses sporting an AA BB CC rhyme scheme. The coupling of Brad's sincere monologues and a mostly unplugged collection of guitars, tambourines, banjos and violins sounds like My Morning Jacket playing stripped down folk tunes on a camping trip.
The Heroes' simplicity brings with it a double-edged sword of instant familiarity and questions of originality. Songs like protest sing-along "No More War" have been done a million times before, but "War" is catchy enough to warrant a listen, despite its rehashed topic. The act of a musician picking up a guitar and singing what he or she feels will never get old as long as it's genuine. And the Laurettis consistently maintain a genuine vibe, with Brad shining the spotlight on his own inner turmoil in the album's finest moments. Opener "Firefly" kicks off with Brad asking himself, "How do I get this hatred out of my heart? How do I get this madness out of my mind?" While the issues at the heart of the album feel therapeutic, Brad still questions himself on the album's last track, pondering, "Why do I have to learn the hard way? Why do I have to do it my way?" The middle of the album sags at times, as a few of the less memorable tracks blend together. But Heroes usually manages to pick up steam again by mixing it up with different instruments and Jessica's underutilized backing vocals. The Heroes' niche proves not to be in creating a new sound, but breathing fresh life into a classic one.