Formed during the height of New York City's post-punk revival in 2003, the Bravery took equal influence from dance music and stylish indie rock. Comprising Sam Endicott (vocals/guitar), John Conway (keyboards), Anthony Burulcich (drums), Michael Zakarin (guitar), and Mike H. (bass), the band got its start in early 2003, several years after Vassar College classmates Conway and Endicott (formerly of the Pasties) performed in the collegiate ska outfit Skabba the Hut. After relocating to the Big Apple, the two assembled the Bravery and began performing stylish dance rock. An introductory gig at Brooklyn's Stinger Club gave way to a residency at Arlene's Grocery, and whispers on the street eventually led the Bravery to a recording contract with Island Def Jam in the States. They also signed with Loog in the U.K.
After the Unconditional EP appeared in early 2005, critics quickly pounced on the band, with the Village Voice proclaiming the Bravery as "New York's Official Next Big Thing" while MTV and Rolling Stone deemed them an artist to watch. A co-headlining tour with Ash in spring 2005 coincided the release of the Bravery's self-titled album, which produced two moderately successful singles in "An Honest Mistake" and "Unconditional." After more rounds of touring, the Bravery eventually decamped to the studio with producer Brendan O'Brien (Rage Against the Machine, Neil Young) to work on their next album. Splitting their recording time between Atlanta and N.Y.C., the group's resulting The Sun and the Moon, which explored added textures and new instrumentation, surfaced in May 2007. For 2009's Stir the Blood, the band returned to the new wave-tinged sounds of its debut and worked with producer John Hill. During the time Hill was working with the Bravery, he was also working with Shakira, and offered her a song he and Endicott had written that became her hit single "She Wolf."