Broken Records

A tale of two cities. King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow (September 23)

Edinburgh and Glasgow are two cities separated by 60 minutes, 50 miles and one gaping cultural schism. There’s not exactly open animosity between them, but they’re as distinct from each other as chalk and cheese, day and night or Reading and Leeds; where Edinburgh is reserved, Glasgow is raucous, and where the former is effortlessly cerebral, its neighbour is easily excitable. Broken Records, subsequently, are a very ‘Edinburgh’ band; at least two of their seven members look as though they might be distant relatives of the royal family, and while they’ve drawn inevitable comparisons to Arcade Fire, their sound is so wonderfully idiosyncratic and unconcerned with fashion, they could only have come from a city that’s – to put it nicely – not exactly renowned for its vibrant musical goings-on. In their own way, Broken Records areevery ounce as exciting as Glasvegas.

The Arcade Fire comparisons aren’t unmerited, but they are a bit lazy; yes, there are seven of them, and yes, they swap instruments like kids swap football stickers, but their sound – a grand old Balkan knees-up as the world falls down around them – is all their own. ‘Wolves’ paints a grimly beautiful picture of the apocalypse, with bombs dropping and hearts stopping, while the propulsive desperation of ‘If Eilert Lovborg Wrote A Song, It Would Sound Like This’ (spot the Ibsen reference, literature fans!) reminds you they’re more than capable of rocking out, albeit in theirown unique and cliche-free way.

It’s the haunting march of closer ‘Slow Parade’, though, that cements their reputation as one of the country’s most exciting new bands. So gorgeous even endearingly sheepish frontman Jamie Sutherland’s rambling intro can’t detract from its majesty, you wish they’d thrown another trumpet solo or fiddle blaze into it, just to prolong the experience. “I hope you don’t think of us as being ‘Eastlanders’,” says a fumbling Jamie at one point. “We’re all Scottish, after all.” He’s right. And it’s good to know we’re in such rude musical health.

Barry Nicolson

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