Bike For Three!'s More Heart Than Brains is an impressive debut of smart pop, roiling downtempo, and introspective rap that finds its two architects embracing the romance inherent in their unique circumstances: Separated by an ocean and having never met in person, Buck 65 and producer Greetings From Tuskan share a startlingly powerful connection that unfolds through their music.
The album's intro sounds more like a continuation than a beginning, and we find our two travelers mid-conversation with "All There Is to Say About Love," a stream of fragmentary epiphanies about romance that spell out a coherent whole. Buck 65's sober voice catches complex cadences, sings bluesy understatement, and is morphed by conductor Greetings From Tuskan. Like the lyrics, Tuskan's production is all about details-- bells, glitchy bits, arpeggios of crystalline synth-- that together form a lush composition. "Lazarus Phenomenon" tells a tight-knit tale of two lovers with hopes for a shared eternity, the music a spare brand of break-beat electro that grows with the story; on "There Is Only One of Us," the twirping, ratcheted production chews up Buck's words, fittingly as they detail a relationship interrupted.
Bike For Three!'s debut is steeped in matters of the heart, with one notable exception: "MC Space," an electrified cover of MC Shan's '87 old-school rap. It's a moment of levity before the album's heady climax, which begins with "Let's Never Meet." Here, Buck writes directly to Tuskan--"Maybe there's a place we can go that's behind doors / A place where you can shelter my body with yours"--over cut-up guitar, dense tonal barrages, skittering beats, and heavy bass. The title track follows, with Tuskan's voice leading the many-layered ascent to madness that eats up everything from Aphex Twin to Fischerspooner before swallowing even Buck in a hail of synthesized bliss. Appropriately, with the outro, Tuskan leaves us on an unresolved minor chord, presumably to be answered by More Heart Than Brains' successor.