Broken Dog : Brighter Now

Sensitive indie from perennial underachievers

No, not Backyard Dog, but Broken Dog; neither ‘bad’ nor ‘ruff’, but a rather more skinny, sad-eyed and lost breed.

Broken Dog’s Clive Painter and Martine Roberts are

a sensitive pair who’ve tenderly eked out a non-career at the smudged margins of London sadcore.

They used to prop up the only-fractionally-less-obscure Tram,

and ‘Brighter Now’, presumably a reference to Nick Drake’s seminal ‘Bryter Layter’, is their fourth, home-produced album of frail, hazy mood music.

Such a delicate undertaking

can only work by stealth. ‘The Sleepers Sleep’ wanders off in a pastoral direction, all chiming guitar and spangly atmospherics, Martine’s tremulous tones burbling what might be a fable. This slightness gracefully gives way to more tangled orchestration, as though the elderflower wine were finally kicking in. The excellent ‘How Can I Explain’ is a dreamy, fearful swoon, like My Bloody Valentine slumbering in a field of violets; after this, the album features

petal-soft near-psychedelia, some sour times and even two tunes about drinking.

But for all the heady charm

and intense subtlety at work here, there’s a great deal of treacle

and torpor too. Broken Dog have one mood: melancholy, and one vision: blurred. Lying down, it’s an appealing combination. Upright, however, ‘Brighter Now’ looks a little one-dimensional.

Kitty Empire