Roman Candle / Elliott Smith
Under normal circumstances, we'd be advising these people to get out more....
Under normal circumstances, we’d be advising these people to get out more. Clive and Martine are Broken Dog, a couple who function in the late 20th century without surnames and remain an integral part of the north London indiepop mafia (they record in their bedroom, and in their spare time play with Tram and produce records for both Girlfrendo and Monograph).
Now this should mean that Broken Dog are hopelessly coy and lacking in ambition – a throwback to the noble C86 ethos of indie purity. Instead, Broken Dog’s second album is – initially at least – a record of understated beauty that recalls The Velvet Underground & Nico more than, say, The Shop Assistants.
The sheer insularity of ‘Zero’ frequently makes it sound like a heroin record. There are no sharp edges, just repetitive womblike drones – especially on the instrumentals ‘Iceberg’ and ‘Running Out In The Wild’. Elsewhere Martine’s coldly unemotional voice allows her to get away with lines like, [I]”When you play and sing/Someone puts their arms around the world”[/I] (‘Light Passing Through’) without anyone vomiting into the nearest wicker basket.
Unfortunately, towards the end of ‘Zero’, Broken Dog betray themselves and the circles they move in as the songs become ever sweeter and more homogenised. By the time we reach the stuttering finale of ‘Still Here’, they’re confirming all the cutesy fanzine clichis you’d feared from the outset. It’s a shame, because they’ve already proved they can be better than that.
Maybe they just need to spread their wings a little?