Album review: Broken Records
Until The Earth Begins To Part
If only there were more bands who could boast the kind of reference points Broken Records seem to have accrued. No painfully telegraphed Joy Division basslines or krautrock beats cherry-picked via skim-listening sessions on Spotify for these chaps. Instead, the Edinburgh outfit sound like autodidacts who started life on a rich diet of Scottish folk music, then schooled themselves in French art-house film soundtracks before adventuring around Europe and picking up ‘Now That’s What I Call… Hungarian Wedding Floorfillers From The 1930s’ on the way.
Unusual though they may seem on first listen, these far-flung influences power the best moments of ‘Until The Earth Begins To Part’ to wonderfully evocative effect. Opener ‘Nearly Home’ is a case in point; it’s the kind of dynamic slow-burner that goes from skeletal-sounding guitar scrapes to string-laden crescendos effortlessly. Meanwhile, if it’s a spritely Balkan hoedown you require (and who doesn’t?), then ‘A Good Reason’ will have even the most stiff upper-lipped Brit yearning for Grandma Vidic’s goulash with misty-eyed fondness.
The trouble is that for all these touchstones, Broken Records seem to fall into blander indie-folk territory all too often. The trudging piano-balladry of ‘A Promise’ for example, goes nowhere slowly, while tracks such as ‘Wolves’ and the ridiculously titled ‘Thoughts On A Picture (In A Paper, January 2009)’ sit disappointingly in the shadow of Arcade Fire when the septet clearly have enough about them to be casting their own shape on the baroque-pop landscape. It’s in these weaker musical moments that the warbles of singer Jamie Sutherland seem exaggerated and corny too.
It’s a shame overall to find that even with some wonderfully vibrant and inventive songs, ‘Until The Earth Begins To Part’ still feels like a missed opportunity. With a bit of luck, Broken Records won’t be afraid to indulge themselves a little more in the future, because it would be a minor tragedy to see such a worldly band opt to wallow in mediocrity.
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