The album begins with military precision in “A Leaving Song”. It has that professional edge running through it that smack of band who know what they are doing and where they wish to go musically. Not to be overtly patriotic, but Scottish bands have a knack of perpetuating this quality through their music whether you are listening to Simple Minds or indeed, Broken Records.
The pulsating tempo with which the album commenced with rolls seamlessly into the second track, “Modern Worksong”. To be quite honest, this is the first I have heard of Broken Records and I am quite bamboozled why they haven’t achieved bigger success than what they have. This is certainly a polished outfit and already I find myself hoping that this album acts as their stepping stone to bigger and better things.
In the third track, “Dia Dos Namardos” the predominant male vocal of lead singer Jamie Sutherland is paired together with a sumptuous female vocal and makes for a fairly haunting ballad which further impresses. It isn’t the complexity of the music that is the driving force behind the enjoyability of this group but the seamlessly way that they tracks blend in and out together.
The haunting ambience rolls further into the next track, “The Motorcycle Boy Reigns”. It is another stellar effort on Broken Records’ part and is an effort that contemporaries such as Snow Patrol should sit up and listen as this group could provide them with some wrought and serious competition.
“A Darkness Rises Up” seems to me like an homage to the great Joy Division. Ok, they cannot provide the lugubrious drawl of Ian Curtis but that uncanny beat and riff smacks of that early 80s energy that has obviously been infected with the new generation of Indie music. By listening to this track, you can clearly understand why this band would spark ceilidh dancing at gigs rather than riots.
This point is further proven in ‘Ailene’ where the hypnotic drumbeat is joined by traditional folk instruments such as the violin and accordion. I admire bands like Broken Records that remember their roots and do not forget the impact of traditional music. You will be able to find the same kind of passion in artists such as DeVotchka; another group I suggest you lend an ear to.
“I Used To Dream” is, what I think, a grower. On first listen I must say that I wasn’t overawed by it. But after two or three listens I can pick up the little hooks and subtleties that this little track has to offer but I still feel that it could be given more work.
However, the energy and vigour that I have come to appreciate by listening to this band arrives in fine form in the next song “You Know You’re Not Dead”. I can imagine such a track being recorded by the indie godfathers R.E.M. You have the rolling drumbeat accompanied by the frantic strings of the violin and guitar which are topped off by a vocal that is clearly passionate about their art.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have a song that follows that traditional battle song. It is the kind of track that could, with the right lyrics of course, be chanted out at a football match. ‘The Cracks in the Wall’ provide this and I can’t help but smile and nod my head to it and appreciate the fucking guts and glory that this band puts into their music. Maybe I feel that this band should stay under the radar as I think heightened fame could cheapen them and their music; I am looking at you, Kings Of Leon by the way.
The album concludes with the apt title “Home”. This song just seems to encapsulate the mood that has been prevalent throughout the entire album. It is a first time, in a long time, that an album has moved me to want to go and see a band. Usually I have to find them playing second fiddle to a headline act as ‘special guests’.
So, Merry Christmas you little blighters! I am going to pour out a Single Malt and pop this baby on for another listen.
Words : Barclay Quarton